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Update On That Mormon Email: LDS Backs Away

Jim Burroway

March 4th, 2009

According to one of our regular commenters, the LDS church is washing its hands of the email sent by one of its bishops to his Nauvoo, Illinois ward urging them to call on state legislators to quash a civil unions bill. I’m still looking for an original source, but in the meantime I’ll go ahead and pass this on:

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

Contrary to how Trotter characterizes our reporting on this, I thought I explained it pretty clearly. This came from one bishop in one ward. In my post, I said “at least one ward” because I find it hard to believe that members of this ward were the only ones to receive such a message. I think the LDS church’s recent history in California and Arizona certainly gives all of us plenty of reasons to be suspicious. Given what we’ve learned about their “phone trees” and the closed-circuit satellite television system linking virtually all the wards — and now a private internal online system — I can’t think of any other organization with anything approaching the sophisticated, well-organized capabilities that the LDS church possesses. I believe it’s important to remain vigilant to every “squeak” which happens to leak out.

As to whether the church has a position on the civil unions bill before the state legislature, I confess I don’t know their inner workings. I’ll allow you to consider the church’s credibility when they speak to their positions. You know them by their fruits, after all. Again, let recent history be your guide.

Be that as it may, the LDS leadership is clearly backing away from this latest spate of publicity, and Bishop Church appears to be following their lead. I was just tipped to another email sent to Nauvoo’s 3rd ward:

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

Comments

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Scott
March 4th, 2009 | LINK

When I called the church in Nauvoo (using the number from the HRC email that went out this afternoon), they gave me the number for the church’s public affairs office in Salt Lake City. The person I spoke with said that the Mormon church opposes both same-sex marriage and civil union because homosexuality is a “sinful choice.” He said that the church opposes the Illinois civil unions legislation. He said this policy comes from central church leadership in Salt Lake City.

Bruno
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

“Backs away” is relative. It just means they don’t want a big stink continually made of it while they shoot off more secure missions via internet and email. Don’t be fooled by this homophobic church for one second.

Eamon
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

I wouldn’t trust a thing any spokesperson for this Mormon organization says. After Prop 8, I spoke, on three consecutive nights, to a missionary through their online dialogue window. The lies, mistruths, half-truths, evasions, and manipulations were outlandish.

Big Love makes the false prophet out to be evil and driven by worldly power and desires. However, I think he represents the real, official Mormon organization.

I won’t even call it a ‘church’.

Royce
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

I am LDS by birth and gay. I participated in church activities till I was 32 years old (Now 37). I’m now athiest and do not attend church services.

I call BS to my family on a lot of LDS issues.

I call BS on this article, for several reasons:
– Mormons outside the West are different than mormons elsewhere. Not as fanatical.
– The Nauvoo 3rd ward is an exception. It is full of transplants and missionaries from the the West, and is atypical of most eastern Mormon congregations.
– The super secret TV system, can for the most part, be reviewed as the BYU channel on most cable/sat networks. There are less than 5 hours of restricted (members only programming a year) It’s called General Priesthood Meeting.
– I never participated in the social networking sites, but my family says they are not that influential or used. There are phone trees and local meetings that are better for that.

This type of article will make it back to Mormons and allow them to dig into their bigoted trenches. It gives them proof that the gay world is out to get them.

I personally, don’t think the article helped our cause for marriage equality at all.

I’m available for questioning upon request.

Seth R.
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

The original report you posted stated:

“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.”

Not “a Mormon bishop,” not “an LDS congregation in Illinois.” What you wrote was “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” The official name for the entire organization.

Sounded like you were accusing official churchwide action to me.

I also find it a bit amusing that you are surprised to find that Mormons know how to send chain emails.

Yes. And that’s not all! We also have TVs! And running water!

Gasp! What next?

Jon
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Anyone who is LDS knows that a Bishop can do just about anything he wants without getting the approval of “the Church.” It isn’t hard to believe he’d send an email (probably to a few dozen church members in his ward) that the church wouldn’t know about.

The Prop 8 fiasco (which I opposed) came from the top of the church – not a random bishop pushing his own agenda.

cowboy
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Jim,
This is the source:
http://www.abc4.com/content/news/state/story/New-LDS-ward-email-about-gay-civil-unions/Xb7iyR4cGk2wfPvSCUvSqw.cspx

I’m confused about the last e-mail from Chris Church. The LDS Church has made several pronouncements on its position on this and other legislation. Which suggests, the only reason Mr. C. Church had to write this last e-mail was to cover his ass? He was attempting to distance himself and his e-mail from the LDS Church?

He has, in effect, acted as an agent for the LDS Church. The contents of the e-mails are now public and the LDS Church should stand by or explicitly explain why the e-mail is erroneous and hold Mr. C. Church accountable.

And this brings up a question I have for Seth R. & Royce: Who spread the lies and misinformation in California and Arizona? Where did those 6 points for Pro-Proponent 8 of contention originate? Those lies were disseminated via the LDS Church’s grapevine. Nary of a word of objection except from a BYU law professor and a small group of Mormons who knew the truth and felt uncomfortable with how their beloved Church Elders did nothing to rectify the lies.

The LDS Church can’t escape responsibility for passing lies because of one rouge Bishop somewhere in their midst got caught. We know it happened and it continues to happen with immunity to their ‘agents’ and Saints.

Seth R.
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Cowboy,

It isn’t “lying” if you really believe what you are saying is true. I think people on the pro-Prop 8 side really felt the propaganda was true. LDS leadership as well as the membership.

I’m not here to defend the Prop 8 campaign. I’m just saying the LDS Church, as an organization should be criticized for things it actually did. That’s just good journalism.

cowboy
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

And, I say: they should be criticized for what the LDS Church did NOT do.

The BYU law professor did a good job in warning the LDS Saints about the errors in the logic they used for supporting Propositions 8/102. Yet, they continue to use these lies.

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. 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

John
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Pro civil union groups should organize large protests in front of Illinois mormon temples. Today would be a great day to do it since the Ca Supreme Court is hearing the Prop 8 case. The mormons have waged war on gays in Alaska Hawaii Arizona California Utah and elsewhere in the US. It makes no sense to let them off the hook in Illinois. Start protesting now rather than waiting to the very end of the fight when you find out just how much money, time and lies the mormons used against us.

Scott P.
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Elise,

Just to let you know, I have a LIFE, not a “lifestyle.”

And Mormonism is far more of a choice than being gay ever was!

Your Church made a public relations nightmare for itself and you’ve help to perpetuate it.

As my mother would have said “You made your bed, now lie in it.”

cowboy
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Elise,
I’m not so sure this is an “isolated” incident only.

Jason
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Elise -

Just because you’re a bigot doesn’t mean that the state should support your viewpoint. You are, indeed, welcome to express your views. However, in so doing, you are compromising the rights and freedoms of others, by relegating them to second class status. Ninety years ago, it was women. Fifty years ago, it was blacks. Forty years ago, it was interracial couples. Now, it’s homosexuals.

“I don’t want my child to learn about ‘interracial’ lifestyles.” Looking at my family, I shudder to think how such a small minded viewpoint, as you express, would have kept me from marrying the woman I did.

The “lifestyle” that you want to hide from your children, that you fear will be taught in schools, is nothing more than reassurance that having two mommies, two daddies, or any other caretaker configuration is perfectly normal. When it comes to sexual education, it will go no farther than teaching them safe practices depending on the choices they make.

You can’t teach people to be gay. They are or they are not. What you can tell them is that it is ok and that they don’t have to be affraid or reject who they are.

If your idea of parenting is keeping your child ignorant, filling their head with lies and vague threats, then that’s your business. Though I do think that makes you a poor excuse for a parent.

My child will be who he is. Whatever choices he makes, I will support, so long as it doesn’t injure himself or others. The relationships he leads, the bonds he forms, will be up to him. I can teach, I can advise, but ultimately it’s his life to lead.

cowboy
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Rest easy Elise,
Ignorance about homosexuality does not prevent it. I’m proof of that.

chrissypoo
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

The Rogue Bishop construct hasn’t been used in awhile. I think the last time must have been in the 1800s to deny the Mountain Meadows Massacre where settlers crossing Utah were murdered by Mormons. Or the Danites, a group of Mormons that worked for the early church leaders to physically attack critiques of the church and those who have left the faith.

I think the Church Handbook of Instructions shows that a ton of decisions, instructions, reports and paperwork accompany any decision of a bishop, rogue or not.

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 how they feel about what you are doing. 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?

Johnson
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Elise–please enlighten me on my so-called “lifestyle” as a gay person. I get up, have breakfast with my partner, go to work, come home, have dinner with my partner, play with the dog, maybe watch a little tv and go to bed. Day in, day out. Don’t know what goes on in your own mind, but that is my life(style).

CLS
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

It is well known the LDS sect upholds “traditional marriage?” REALLY! Would that be the traditional marriage of Prophet Joseph Smith with his many wives, including child brides? Is it the traditional marriage of Brigham Young with 57 wives said monogamy “is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers?” Is it Prophet John Taylor’s view that the “one-wife system not only degenerates the human family… but it entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality?”

Is the traditional marriage one where multiple wives can be sealed to one man, even today, for “celestial marriages?” Is it the view that men have multiple wives in heave in order to continue having physical babies for all of eternity in order to become gods?

There is nothing traditional about Mormon teaching on marriage. This is a smokescreen. The sect is pushing their antigay views as part of a public relations campaign to get Christians to accept them.

grantdale
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Elise, for what it’s worth…

David Parker wasn’t asking that children not be ‘taught’ about ‘lifestyles that conflicted with his beliefs’. Massachusetts does not teach about sexual ‘lifestyles’: but you obviously don’t know that.

What David Parker demanded was that homosexuality never be even mentioned; by anyone. In other words, he demanded the ultimate right to control what other people’s children said. They wouldn’t have been allowed to mention their (gay) parents or their (gay) friends and family.

Personally, I think a law like that would be a good thing.

But only if it applied only to Mormons. Other people’s children need to be protected from your weird lifestyle.

Make all the ignorant excuses for your position that you like Elise: what you have done — together with your likewise secretive and underhanded compatriots — is finally expose the LDS as a dishonest and manipulative organisation that is severely anti-gay.

This is not an ‘isolated incident’. You are a liar. It is but one email by one individual in a long and vicious campaign organised by the LDS over 10 years.

You know it and we know it. What we need do now is let the rest of society know it.

You should be ashamed of yourself. I fear you are not. Yet.

KJD
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

I have a question. Homosexuals have the right to call their representatives and voice their opinion and plead their cause, and I am sure they call all of their friends an acquaintances to tell them to do the same. Why is everyone getting bent out of shape because some guy sent an email to a large group of people requesting the same thing? Don’t they have a right to call each other up or email to raise support just as much as homosexuals? Are you saying because they have a bigger contact database that it makes it wrong…..I don’t get it, but either way it does no one any good for either side to lash out at one another.

Scott P.
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

KJD, none of us “ho-mo-SEX-uals” (I can hear you saying it that way) are saying that they can’t do that. What we’re saying is that when a church uses it’s facilities to actively pursue a political agenda that it should loose it’s tax-exempt status, period.

Jim
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

“Royce
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

I am LDS by birth and gay. I participated in church activities till I was 32 years old (Now 37). I’m now athiest and do not attend church services.

I call BS to my family on a lot of LDS issues.

I call BS on this article, for several reasons:
- Mormons outside the West are different than mormons elsewhere. Not as fanatical.
- The Nauvoo 3rd ward is an exception. It is full of transplants and missionaries from the the West, and is atypical of most eastern Mormon congregations.
- The super secret TV system, can for the most part, be reviewed as the BYU channel on most cable/sat networks. There are less than 5 hours of restricted (members only programming a year) It’s called General Priesthood Meeting.
- I never participated in the social networking sites, but my family says they are not that influential or used. There are phone trees and local meetings that are better for that.

This type of article will make it back to Mormons and allow them to dig into their bigoted trenches. It gives them proof that the gay world is out to get them.

I personally, don’t think the article helped our cause for marriage equality at all.

I’m available for questioning upon request.”

The above quoted comment is absolutely correct. This article makes the LDS church out to be nothing less than a lock-step suicide cult. I understand your political frustration, but this is not taking the high road and trying to let your ideology win through democracy. Its plain demagoguery.

Royce, I feel for your struggle and appreciate your fairness on the issue. Even though I oppose your views, good luck with your fight.

Scott from IL
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

The civil union legislation (hb 2234) passes out of committee and to the full house for consideration. Yeah!

Scott G
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

I call BS on Scott P. Your comment is the first anyone mentions about the tax exempt status issue. That’s as much of a smoke screen as any other. Let’s face it, homosexuals dislike the LDS church because of its views on homosexuality, it has nothing to do with “tax exempt status.” At the same time, let’s be honest and say that mormons oppose gay marriage because they believe it to be morally wrong, and any arguments made about “harm to society” are only made ex post.

Timothy Kincaid
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Scott P,

I’m not calling on them to lose tax status for advocating a social or legal position.

I’m simply exposing the agenda and efforts of the Mormon Church. I’m simply letting non-Mormons know that this particular denomination has a political agenda and secretive methods and that they are more than willing to lie about them.

I’m letting Presbyterians and Lutherans and Methodists and Quakers and members of the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ and the Unitarian Universalists and the Reform Jews all know that the Mormons seek to impose their views about marriage – based on their Eternal Marriage theology – on the rest of us. That they have dedicated tens of millions of dollars in a stealth campaign to change laws in neighboring states. And that this is all coordinated and orchistrated from Utah.

And the Mormons don’t like that exposure one bit, now do they?

Jason
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

The statements Jim Burroway are even less logical and more emotional than the last one. The part where Jim says:

I said “at least one ward”

is textbook sensationalism. While the phrase does include a single ward it also implies more. In other words it is inflamatory and that is exactly the crap we need to avoid in a discussion like this. If the article was presented as unbiased fact and sensational speculation was avoided maybe the truth would have a chance against misinformation.

Joe
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Wow, there is a lot of hate and misunderstanding from both sides of this argument.

I think you would be shocked if you spent a little time with the people you are throwing stones at.

Someone you know and love is Mormon/Gay

John
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Mormons spent enormous amounts of money and mobilized enormous numbers of church members to take marriage equality away from gay people in CA. Ditto for Hawaii, Arizona, Alaska, etc. They told any lie they could to demonize gay people. They did everything they could to hide mormon involvement in their campaign. They even went so far to try and change CA campaign contribution reporting laws to further hide their manipulations and contributions to anti-gay hate and discrimination in CA.

Yet they (even on this thread) have the gall to demand that gays take the high road. Give me a break. Gays should be doing everything they can to expose any and all efforts by the mormon church to manipulate our democratic process with the goal of denying rights to our fellow citizens. Mormons are the perfect face of anti-gay political hate campaigns. They lie constantly and seem to even have some sort of mormon justification for lying, if it advances their religious aims. They are two faced, presenting a friendly pleasant face publicly while engaging in the most vile acts privately. They are ashamed when their ugly acts and statements are exposed publicly. They work secretly in the background trying not to draw too much attention to themselves.

Many Americans who are not supportive of gay rights don’t like the idea of being lied to and manipulated by a secretive religious group. We have to use that to our advantage in trying to protect ourselves from the anti-gay mormon political hate machine.

Scott P.
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Scott G., bullshit right back at you. The call for the removal off the LDs Church’s tax-exempt status has been going on since Nov. 5th, 2008. Do your research before calling someone else mistaken.

Stephen
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

As a member of the LDS church I figured I could give some insight into the email in question. Box Turtle Bulletin stated, “In a private email sent out to LDS members of at least one ward in Illinois, church members are being encouraged…” I like the fact that here the author has mentioned that it is only confirmed to have been sent to members of “one ward.” An LDS ward is a local congregation of roughly anywhere between 80 and 200 (active) persons. The bishop of a ward would indeed have to authorize a member to use that feature of church website. It is essentially a ListServ; members who have a desire to receive email notifications from the congregation register their existing emails with the site. Typically this is used exclusively to remind people of upcoming events like parties, firesides, or if there is a special request (a family will be moving and wants people to come and help them pack up the truck). The use of this ListServ for political/social issues is uncharacteristic, and inappropriate.

Generally speaking the LDS church adopts a neutral stance on political issues
http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/political-neutrality
,BUT the church does reserve the right to tell its members what to do if a political/social issue is also what could be considered a moral issue. The best example of this is Prop 8 in California. However, the Prop 8 efforts which the official body of the church rallied came in the form of letters sent to the bishops to be read to the entire congregation. The Church Headquarters doesn’t use the ListServ to inform its members of anything really. I’ve never gotten an email from Salt Lake, but I have received reminders about Christmas parties. So basically, this email is isolated and represents the desires of two individuals(Sister Combs and Bishop Church).

Officially the LDS Church HQ probably would be against this bill, but that is only an assumption seeing as how the Church has no official statement on this Bill. 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. The school district hasn’t taken a stance in this example, but it could be assumed they would be in favor of something that would provide more money for education. People who opposed the bill would be wrong to attack the school district for this teacher’s independent action in sending the email.

Chad
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

“Yet they (even on this thread) have the gall to demand that gays take the high road. Give me a break.”

Thank you, John. The demands for civility are almost as absurd as chastising someone who had been viciously beaten for saying mean things about their attacker.

Scott P.
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

I agree with Chad, thank you, John, my sentiments exactly!

Patrick
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Elise,
I’m wondering if LDS parents also pull their children out of history and anthropology classes. The LDS church teaches that the Book of Mormon is a historical account of Native Americans from 600 BC to AD 400. The pages within it talk about kings brandishing swords while riding chariots pulled by horses. Of course, neither swords, chariots, nor horses existed in the pre-Columbus Native American societies. The Book of Mormon teaches that Native Americans are descendants of the “lost tribe of Israel”, and the kings had names such as Nephi and Benjamin. Of course, genetic and linguistic studies in addition to cultural comparisons, disprove such notions. The animals prominently mentioned in the Book of Mormon were not common in Native American societies and the ones commonly found in Native American societies are not found in the Book of Mormon. Those silk garments mentioned in the Book of Mormon didn’t exist either.

History contradicts your beliefs. I trust you show your contempt for history by removing your children out of those classes, just like some Mormons show contempt for reality by shielding their children from the truth about sexual orientation. It is ironic, you must admit, that studies demonstrate the more males a mother carries, the more likely it is the next male child will be gay. I just love the irony in that as it relates to LDS beliefs.

Unfortunately, you use your beliefs to discriminate against your own children and others. That’s not love, for the record, that’s bigotry.

Given that the LDS church has entered the realm of politics, it has made its beliefs about history fair game. I, for one, now educate my students on those beliefs and how history thoroughly and utterly disproves them.

Joe
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

Lumping all Mormons into a group of hate filled bigots is like lumping all gays into a group of devient perverts that prey on little boys. Quite simply it is ignorance on the highest (lowest?) level.

I understand that you are pissed off. Don’t let the anger turn YOU into a bigot that stereotypes people. I am not asking that you “take the higher road” I am asking that you don’t drive off the road we are all on into a big pile of mud.

chrissypoo
March 5th, 2009 | LINK

“Officially the LDS Church HQ probably would be against this bill, but that is only an assumption seeing as how the Church has no official statement on this Bill. ”

Funny how during the Prop 8 campaign, the mormon church was expousing the idea that they had no problem with civil unions, but just marriage. They claimed they have no problem with rights for gays, just its against their moral beliefs.

So in Utah, the gay political organization, decided to put that to a test and asked for civil unions as well as other basic rights. No surprise here: Civil Union ban is now a dead piece of legislation and probably all the rest of the legislation package known as Common Ground.

I think what gets most people, Stephen, about the website in question is this: many churches have websites where they communicate information to their members; many of these websites have email addresses of their members– Mormons seem to be the only ones that have made that privilaged information.

“Let’s face it, homosexuals dislike the LDS church because of its views on homosexuality, it has nothing to do with “tax exempt status.” ”

Homosexuals could have cared less about the LDS church until they found out that this church organized a majority of the funding of Prop 8 as well as lied on their financial reporting to the state. Your church brought all the scrutiny on itself when it inserted itself into the political process. As many other posters have said, you made your bed, now lie in it.

Scott
March 6th, 2009 | LINK

My name is Scott. I live in Illinois. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In Doctrine and Covenants Section 134:4 Joseph Smith writes, “We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of other; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.”

And I strongly support civil unions and/or marriages for same-sex couples.

Seth R.
March 7th, 2009 | LINK

“I think the Church Handbook of Instructions shows that a ton of decisions, instructions, reports and paperwork accompany any decision of a bishop, rogue or not.”

Having served as an Executive Secretary to an LDS Bishop for a couple years, I can tell you this is simply inaccurate. A decision to send out a ward email would have zero paperwork, and probably little discussion with higher-up leadership. Bishops in the LDS Church are actually given a lot more autonomy to handle ward matters than you’d think.

Most of the paperwork in an LDS congregation is solely for the purpose of membership records, keeping track of charitable donations, and budgeting for ward activities.

An action from a bishop like sending out this email would probably have been accompanied by zero paperwork and I doubt the bishop in question ever discussed the issue with regional or churchwide leadership. The most he probably did was mention it informally to his Stake President (kind of the equivalent of a “bishop” in the Catholic Church).

By the way, I’m deliberately staying quiet about a lot of the anger toward the LDS Church because, frankly, I think the LDS Church actually deserves some of it. I think the Prop 8 campaign was a mistake. I also think it was inappropriately handled – not from a tax standpoint, but just as a member of this Church. I don’t like seeing my Sunday services appropriated for campaign purposes.

I also resent how conservative elements in the LDS Church automatically assume EVERYONE in the congregation must be in agreement with them and that it is therefore OK to spout off right-wing rhetoric in church. There are plenty of liberals in the LDS Church and we get really annoyed when our worship services are co-opted for partisan stances on issues that, frankly, Mormon DOCTRINE is silent about.

I also don’t disagree with all the comments about the LDS Church being secretive and less than forthcoming. It’s a tendency that I have observed in my church and it does exasperate me on occasion.

I do think the LDS leadership really do believe the talking points of the “yes on Prop 8″ campaign. They really do think that gay marriage will have the impact on society and religious liberty that Yes on 8 claimed it would.

I also think the calls for the LDS Church to lose its tax-exempt status are rather silly. It’s been a while since I took those two years of Tax Law in law school (and Constitutional Law), but I don’t think this argument has any legs. Churches are allowed to campaign on moral issues. Most of the restrictions on tax-exempt status refer to explicitly endorsing a CANDIDATE for political office. And even here churches are allowed a lot of leeway (black churches in Chicago and elsewhere do it all the time).

The calls for loss of exempt status are going nowhere, and, whether the people calling for it are aware or not, constitute quite a serious infraction on free speech themselves. Liberals can’t just be in favor of free speech only on “hip” issues. You have to extend it to unpopular ones as well.

Honestly, I think a lot of the resentment here on the tax-exempt status is merely liberal anger that conservative groups tend to be better at cooperative action than liberals are. I know people here would love to even the playing field by forcing religious conservatives to act just as organizationally dysfunctional as liberals do. But I doubt that’s an argument that’s going to sway many judges.

But actually, I do think the LDS Church deserves a lot of the criticism it’s getting right now. Hopefully it does prompt some reflection in the top leadership of the Church. I don’t want to see the Church promoting a Prop 8 campaign here in Colorado. We had an anti-gay marriage issue on the ballot here a couple years ago. I heard absolutely nothing about it at Church. I may have heard a few Mormons in private conversation mention it once or twice, but there was nothing from Salt Lake City other than the standard yearly letter encouraging us to vote and participate in political processes, but to keep partisanship out of church (we get those each year around election time).

So my wife and I went out and voted against the proposal to restrict gay unions. Which we did BECAUSE of our religious views, not in spite of them. I take a libertarian view on gay marriage, and find right-wing attempts to fight it to be wrong-headed, and ultimately damaging to religious marriages in the long run.

So if you want to have a go at the current LDS structure or leadership, be my guest. But if you start attacking my religion, well, I’m going to object to that. Too often discussions criticizing Mormon involvement in Prop 8 devolve into discussions of “how stupid Mormonism is.”

I don’t think this serves gay interests very well actually. It just makes you look anti-religion. And I have to break it to you – atheists are probably one of the smallest and least agreed with minorities in the United States. Wedding the gay cause with militant atheism is not going to do you guys any favors.

Suggestion: when talking to Mormons, why not appeal to their own religious beliefs? I’m a believer, and I’ve found plenty of reasons in Mormon doctrine and scripture to oppose Prop 8.

I think this approach will go over much better than calling someone a “bigoted religious fruitcake.”

John
March 7th, 2009 | LINK

Seth R. wrote: I do think the LDS leadership really do believe the talking points of the “yes on Prop 8″ campaign. They really do think that gay marriage will have the impact on society and religious liberty that Yes on 8 claimed it would.

Seth,

Of course they believe the talking points of “Yes on Prop 8.” They wrote them. They funded them. They put them out on the airways. They made the signs (even importing them from overseas). They managed the campaign. Every Prop 8 lie was directly authorized and paid for by the LDS leadership.

I appreciate your views and support for liberty, but I am taking you up on the issue of going after the LDS church and it’s leadership. I couldn’t care less about theology, but I sure as hell do care about my rights.

Timothy Kincaid
March 7th, 2009 | LINK

Seth

Thanks for some very wise words.

cowboy
March 8th, 2009 | LINK

Seth R,
I, too, appreciate your rational and reasoned comments.

My fear is when April conference is held at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. What are we to expect? Both from the Mormons and the Anti-Mormons. I fear further entrenchment. The emotions on both sides of this issue are still rather raw and on the surface.

I don’t expect changes in dogma and any sort of gay-tolerance to happen instantly in the near future but there is hope for some basic understanding and respect in the long haul if we can have a dialog like this with people on both sides.

chrissypoo
March 9th, 2009 | LINK

“Anti-Mormons”

Is that what anyone who criticizes the Mormon church’s involvement with politics is?

Somebody’s civil marriage performed by a justice of the peace is not a moral issue, but an issue of status. It doesn’t affect the Mormon church at all. Mormons don’t want gays in stable relationships because it undermines they lies they have told over the years about gays.

PapaD
April 24th, 2011 | LINK

I am a sixty-year old Mormon convert from a main-stream protestent religion. I have been an active member for over forty years now. I am up-to-date, a Priesthood holder and I have full access to everything officially LDS on the Internet.
I can tell you that I have found far less prejudice againt homosexuals in the Mormon Church than in my former church. Although there IS certainly personal prejudices within the ranks of LDS church members, it is, in my perception, far less than that of the general poulation.
Although the Church believes that all forms of behavior traditionally labeled by Western Society (and most civliations) as “immoral” including adultry, fornication, pedophilia, pornography, masturbation, abortion AND homosexuality–it does not hold the latter any MORE immoral than other types of immorality.
Since the LDS Church believes that God is unchanging in his judgement, leaders and/or any rank-and-file members who are active and has a good understanding of our doctrine does not dislike or hate people who believe differently than us. To the contrary, the LDS Church encourages those they deam as immoral to participate and fellowship with Church members. We believe that Jesus Christ loves everyone.
We believe, as a church, in the acceptance of differences in all other legal cultures, religions, and life-styles–just as we would desire similar respect for our own beliefs–which, incidentally, we seldom have recieved ourselves as a group.
We believe in individual freedom and the the right to believe and worship as one chooses in as much as it does not infringe upon the rights and welfare of others or the law. We believe in our (USA’s) political system and the right and need to vote in elections and use personal intellect and judgement to decide how to vote.
The Church is officially neutral regarding how people vote or campaign. The political views of LDS Church members varies widely. There is a specific and intentional effort to seperate individual beleifs from any Official Church positions regarding political issues. (There is a long history and precedent that makes this stance desirable and necessary–especially in Illinois). This nuetral position is of itself a vital church beleif.
The Church as a whole simply does not encourage people to take any specific political view or dictate any political party or individual view over another. It actually prohibits this. My personal friends in the church have widely varying political views AND views regarding gender-identity and other issues. It is at best, complicated.
The Church has never, to my knowlege, and I am as certain as a person can be, has NEVER SENT OUT AN EMAIL of the nature as “this one” bishop may have done.
My guess is that “this” Bishop was privately corrected by his Official Church leaders for misusing the Church’s online directory in the way he did (if he truely did). We, as church members, are specifically prohibited from using this resource for private, or non-church related matters–especially political ones. This capability is not even used for the distribution of official Church material, for a lot of reasons–not the least of which is the lack of monitoring by Church Leaders and for the propensity for mistakes and unauthorized edits.
I have only twice used this church ward membership directory online; this was for official church business of a strictly administrative nature, and it was actually only used as a resource to locate the phone numbers of a fellow church member–on two seperate occasions–in order to follow-up on an item of church business during mid-week–when we were not meeting.
To characterize the Church Directory online as a “Social-Networking” system is laughable. I have never even considered it for such use–nor have I heard of it EVER being used by ANYONE in this way.
The fact that Mormons generally believe in the biblical teachings concerning morality, as do many if not most other religions, does not mean that Mormons are conspiring or protesting or lobbying against homosexuals or any other group.
What the Church IS invloved in is protecting the age-old institution of marriage and family between a man and a wife as a sacred and necessary institution upon which society and civilization is founded. Even “this” is my own private interpretation of what the Church believes and why.
Free-agency is vital to our belief-system. One must be free to choose whether to behave according to Gospel principles or it would mean nothing. Coercion has no place in the Mormon Church. It is against the basic tenants of our church. If homosexuals choose to cohabitate where it is legal for them to do so (ours is a world-wide law-abiding church, and laws do vary), then it is their business. We have no designs to coerce them to do otherwise.
However, what we DO oppose (at least as I interpret Mormon Doctrine), is confusing such arrangements with the age-old institution of “marriage”. Nor do we want to label common-law cohabitation outside the sanctity of the institution of marriage–as “marriage”. We don’t believe that either is approved of by God.
Even the most liberal-minded proponent of homosexual unions, could agree that if everyone had chosen to live in this manner that we deam “immoral”, that humans would likely have ceased to exist due to the obvious implcations that such arrangements have upon moral procreation.
We feel that we have the right to believe this just as others have the right to beleive as they do. We should not be required to believe a certain way simply because the tides of what is acceptable to man may have changed what is today politically correct. We believe that people individually answer to a higher law than man or government, although we DO beleive in following the laws of the land.
As Christians, Mormons believe in loving our fellow human beings who are more or less in the same state of imperfection. We all fall short of the Glory of God, which necesitates our Savior’s (Jesus Christ’s) atonement to be “saved” from our own carnality.
We beleive that man’s spirit makes him more than a a mere animal who follows his own lusts or inclinations. We also happen to believe that it is wrong to sleep to much or to waste time or resources or to dring alchohol–and a host of other unpopular things that are hard for humans to do.
But those are OUR beliefs. We do not impose them upon anyone. If we are trying to be good members, we try to personally rise above carnal urges (with imperfect success I might add). Each individual has his work cut out for him to govern himself.
We generally believe in majority rule, when it comes to politics. But we do not beleive that God’s will is changeble by majority vote. In fact we believe that it will be a small minority who try to live by God’s laws. So we are certianly not against minorities. But we do seek the same “live and let live” attitude toward ourselves.
I once knew a person who was clearly a hermorphadite. This person had the sexual organs of both male and female. So I have to personally believe that such things DO occur. However, I believe that it is the rare exception and not the rule. Do some people identify more with the predispositons of one gender over the other? Even when it is not the “usual” occurence in nature. It obviously IS so.
But I beleive that just as one more highly-sexed heterosexual person finds it a greater challenge to remain “moral” than does one who is less highly-sexed, I beleive that we are intended to overcome the inclinations of such predispostions when it differs from what God’s standards dictate, regardless of how hard it is for us personally.
This is the nature of overcoming our carnal natures–and it implies personal growth.
I believe similarly regarding homosexual inclinations. It is what it is, to coin a phrase. No apologies in behalf of God. I don’t have the right to change what God dictates. This is MY belief. But I certainly don’t require the same standards of others (although God may).
So why should those who believe differently than I, impose their beliefs upon me? I don’t impose mine upon them.
Maybe its an “I was here first” sort of problem. Humanity largely first believed that the institution of marriage as ordained of God was to be between a man and woman. It was only recently that free societies even allowed people to choose to live together as homosexual couples. So why should this johnny-come-lately minority overrule and change the ideals of the institution we call “marriage” by calling their unions “marriages”, thereby confusing our own youth and others who are not homosexually- inclinded with what we regard as the wholesome and God-sanctioned institution we have come to call marriage?
Just call it something else. It is NOT marriage–as we believe it to be. It is just NOT. It is as inherently different as are men’s and women’s genitilia. It doesn’t matter how hared we believe it to be the same. It IS different. I di not make it different. Nature or God or SOMETING made it so.
Why is this simple concept so hard for some people to understand? It is not. Everyone knows what is the “norm”. I did not make it this way. Deny that a homoxsexual union has a set of complicating social/physical/psychological differences from what has been traditionally called marriage. I would gues that it is much harder to live this way. Deny it. Anyone who does deny this is either lying or delusional or both.
It IS different! That’s all I am saying. So if it IS different–then why can’t you agree to call it something besides marriage. You don’t call a man a woman–just because the man wants to be a woman. No matter how many harmones are injected, or how many surgeries are completed.
That man who wants to be a woman is still only a physically altered man. A white man cannot become a black man or a red man or a yellow man. He is just different. Get angry, hold your breath, and turn blue in the face. It does not change the facts. A man-made woman just ain’t as woman as a God-made woman. How hard is that.
The emperor had no clothes on–even though everyone was afraid to tell him he was naked. It didn’t change the facts. The emporer was naked. Or so goes the old fairytale.

Shofixti
April 25th, 2011 | LINK

Dear PapaD

Thank you for a detailed picture on Mormonism that is quite hopeful.

While I would never comment on what humanity’s first beliefs about marriage were. I can direct you to a lengthy exposé on marriage by Rob Tisinai on this site. As it does give you a bit of information on what it is like to contend with the overt genital obsessiveness of religion in regards to marriage.

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2011/02/07/30333

I know that there is great joy and security in calling a man – a man, a woman – a woman, black – black and white – white, which all seem to be lovely discrete categories. But they tell little about the policies that regulate these signifying practices.

Take marriage, it looks like a real thing. David Halperin (1995) suggests that the epsitemological regime known as ‘realism’ often miscodes and misreads and misrepresents as an “object” the things that are actually “discursive”. Marriage is not a real object, marriage is a discourse.

enough already
April 25th, 2011 | LINK

shofixti said:
Marriage is not a real object, marriage is a discourse.
endquote
Another attack on my marriage by you.

Our marriage is just as real and just as valid as any heterosexual marriage.

Our faithful, true, monogamous, loyal, life-long commitment to each other is not lessened one iota by your desire to destroy our marriage.

Gay marriage is real, it is your pretence that you aren’t our enemy which is the lie.

enough already
April 25th, 2011 | LINK

Shofixti,
Take a look at the interview – about two minutes in – with this man whose husband is about to be deported from the US.
Their marriage is real.
It is people like you who are destroying their lives.
Does this not even raise a trace of compassion in you?
Or is compassion towards gays just a matter of discourse, too?

Shofixti
April 25th, 2011 | LINK

Uh, EA – no, no, no, emphatic no. You are failing to understand what Halperin means by “object” and “discourse”.

Discursive does not mean something does not exist, or is unreal – but that its existence is contingent. For instance if marriage is a real object then it is incapable of change, ever – but if we look at history and how culture, economics, feminism have all contested and expanded marriage – we can see it for what it is, a discursive formation. It is not a finite thing, lying in a field, that some ancient tribe discovered and protected throughout the aeons.

“Their marriage is real” and “They have a Real marraige” are two different statements and that difference has nothing to do with my compassion.

Your marriage exists, your “faithful, true, monogamous, loyal, life-long commitment to each other” exists! I have never ever had a problem with this. Never ever. It actually makes me feel warm inside.

You are the one who keeps telling eveyone how when you go to the USA that this ceases to be recognised – so you should have no problem comprehending the contingency of marriage and the need to fight for validity.

But PapaD sees things as you do as he is also arguing that marriage is real.

Only in his version, the realness of marriage means that you can’t or shouldn’t have yours. Real gay marriage cannot exist if real marriage means heterosexual not homosexual. Your truth claim means he can’t have his real and exclusive marriage, so by your own logic you are trying to destroy PapaD’s marriage (fancy that). You are in a war of real verses real.

How do you propose we tell these two claims on reality apart? With your empirical brilliance, can you devise an experiment whereby we can distill the essence of real marriage, or prove the realness of one, both or the other truth claims?

Enough Already
April 25th, 2011 | LINK

You’re putting words in my mouth, Shofixti.
I don’t care about his concept of marriage one way or the other.
What I do care about is that you have very neatly sidestepped, once again, plainly stating that you are an advocate of full civil and human rights for gays including gay marriage with all the legal rights and responsibilities which are now granted to heterosexual marriage.

This is why I don’t trust you – you’re perfectly capable of playing word games to avoid making a clear statement.

So, how about it – can you make that clear statement?

Shofixti
April 25th, 2011 | LINK

I cannot fathom how you can ask me that.

I have answered you. I am not side-stepping anything.

In addition, I have requoted myself for you, answering that exact question. Explicitly. Openly. Fully. Clearly.

Which part of what I said did you not understand?

I support marriage between two adults irrespective of gender. You can have one, two, even three or no gender at all and I support the marriage’s legality and all attached rights.

EA: I don’t care about his concept of marriage one way or the other.

Amazing! If everyone can have their own ‘real’ marriages, with no consideration for what another thinks their or your own marriage is or means – then that is both a pluralistic view and a constructivist view and a discursive view.
And it means we agreed all along.

Priya Lynn
April 25th, 2011 | LINK

Papad said “Although the Church believes that all forms of behavior traditionally labeled by Western Society (and most civliations) as “immoral” including adultry, fornication, pedophilia, pornography, masturbation, abortion AND homosexuality–it does not hold the latter any MORE immoral than other types of immorality.”.

It never fails to amaze me how people continue to make such idiotic statments. They think they’re being generous by saying gayness is no more immoral than pedophilia when its obvious they’re being extremely insulting – the word fatuous comes to mind. No Papad, gayness isn’t immoral in the slightest and for you to claim its just as immoral as pedophelia is outrageous and evil.

And Shofixti, enough with the BS already. No intelligent person believes a word your deceptive self says.

Shofixti
April 25th, 2011 | LINK

What was deceptive?

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