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Posts for November, 2008

The Complete 1997 Mormon Memo

Jim Burroway

November 15th, 2008

We reported earlier on the 1997 memo addressed to LDS elder Elder M. Russell Ballard which outlined the Mormon church’s entry into anti-gay politics more than eleven years ago. Ballard went on to become a key leader in the political campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California.

We now have a copy of the entire memo in full, which highlights the church’s efforts to ban same-sex marriage in Hawaii.  Interesting points include expressions of satisfaction that the leaders of the Hawaii campaign were not publicly identified with the Mormon church despite being members.

You can download it by clicking here (PDF: 260KB/8 pages).

1997 Mormon Memo Emerges, Revealing Longstanding Strategy

Jim Burroway

November 12th, 2008

An eleven year old internal LDS memo has emerged which proves that the Mormon church has been plotting against same-sex marriage for more than a decade.

The memo, dated March 4, 1997, provides insight into the late LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley’s strategy for opposing same-sex marriage. It describes a meeting in which Hinckley gives the go ahead, but urged caution. According to the memo, “he (President Hinckley) also said the (LDS) Church should be in a coalition and not out front by itself.”

In fact, the LDS church has been way out front in its battles against gays and lesbians, both in California and in Arizona.

The memo was addressed to Elder M. Russell Ballard, who has played a central role in the LDS’s fight in Arizona and California. He appeared on several closed-circuit satellite broadcasts to Mormon churches with specific instructions on the California campaign for Prop 8. In one such broadcast in late October, he reminded the faithful that the central doctrine of Celestial Marriage was propelling the church’s drive to impose its theology on state constitutions:

“We know that it is not without controversy, yet let me be clear that at the heart of this issue is the central doctrine of eternal marriage and it’s place in our Father’s plan,” Ballard said.

Parts of the 1997 memo were first published on the DailyKos web site on November 3. Those portions reveal that the LDS leadership has been strategizing for California even back then.

Update: You can see the entire memo by clicking here (PDF: 260KB/8 pages).

LDS Elder: “Central Doctrine of Eternal Marriage” At Heart of Political Activities

Jim Burroway

October 23rd, 2008

Do you want any more evidence that a powerful religious minority is bent on imposing its theological doctrines on the state constitutions of Arizona and California? Look no further than the words of LDS Elder M. Russell Ballard.

Ballard is a member of the Mormon Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which means that the church accepts him as a prophet, seer, and revelator. This gives his words special meaning among church members. In a special satellite broadcast to the church faithful, Ballard was clear about what they were really trying to do:

“We know that it is not without controversy, yet let me be clear that at the heart of this issue is the central doctrine of eternal marriage and it’s place in our Father’s plan,” Ballard said.

The doctrine of Eternal Marriage is unique to Mormonism. An Eternal Marriage is one that is “sealed” in secret ceremonies in an LDS temple (a sealing, by the way, which can occur by proxy on behalf of deceased non-Mormon couples as well). Once sealed, the couple are permanently married on earth and in the afterlife in the Celestial Kingdom. The Celestial Kingdom itself is subdivided into three “heavens or degrees”, and only those who are sealed in eternal marriage in a temple while alive (or after death by proxy) will be permitted to enter into the highest degree of celestial kingdom. Once there, they will eventually become “exalted” and live “the kind of life God lives” — and some will even become gods themselves.

In yesterday’s hour long broadcast to churches in California, Utah, Hawaii and Idaho, church elders exhorted members to embark on a week-by-week strategy before the Nov. 4 election. In speaking of the church’s efforts to impose its theology onto state constitutions, Ballard reiterated, “What we’re about is the work of the Lord, and he will bless you for your involvement.”

Mormon Leadership: You (and not I) Should Sacrifice

Timothy Kincaid

October 13th, 2008

The Sacramento Bee has an article today about the sacrifices that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have made so that they can take away the right to marry from same-sex couples.

Rick and Pam Patterson gave $50,000.

He drives a 10-year-old Honda Civic to his job at Intel. She is a stay-at home mom who makes most of the family meals and bakes her own bread. The couple, who have five sons between the ages of 3 and 12, live in a comfortable but modest three-bedroom home in Folsom.

David and Susan Nielson gave $35,000.

The couple will forgo a vacation for the next two years and make other sacrifices to pay for their donation, he said.

Yes, they are faithful members of their church. And while the couples deny that they were pressured to contribute, both couples did so after the June 29 letter came out from the First Presidency and the church leadership requesting that Mormons “do what you can”.

However, this sacrifice seems not to have extended to the leaders actually contributing from their own personal funds. A search of the contribution database listing all contributors of $100 or more yields:

  • President and Prophet Thomas Monson – $0.00
  • 1st Counselor Henry Eyring – $0.00
  • 2nd Counselor Dieter Uchtdorf – $0.00
  • Apostle Boyd Packer – $0.00
  • Apostle L. Tom Perry – $0.00
  • Apostle Russell Nelson – $0.00
  • Apostle Dallin Oaks – $0.00
  • Apostle M. Russell Ballard – $0.00
  • Apostle Joseph Wirthlin – $0.00
  • Apostle Richard Scott – $0.00
  • Apostle Robert D. Hales – $0.00
  • Apostle Jeffery Holland – $0.00
  • Apostle David Bednar – $0.00
  • Apostle Quentin Cook – $0.00
  • Apostle C. Todd Christofferson – $0.00

Perhaps “our best efforts” means something different to the leaders than it does to the followers.

The Mormon Church’s Official Prop 8 Website

Timothy Kincaid

October 9th, 2008

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has set up a website to provide inspiration to their members in their efforts to change the California State Constitution – through Proposition 8 – to be more in alignment with Mormon theology. Because Mormons have a unique understanding of The Divine Institution, their talking points are different than those for, say, an evangelical Christian or a Catholic.

At preservingmarriage.org, you can read a letter from the Prophet, check out an interview with Elders, listen to an Elder threaten young Mormons with a “decreasingly tolerant environment” from gays who “push at the edges of what is legally allowable”, read about the Divine Instition of Marriage and how the “course charted by Church leaders” is “the only course of safety for the Church and for the nation”.

The primary purpose of the site, though, is to provide young Mormons with a video to download to their personal websites or networking sites. It’s full of young faces repeating endlessly that they support Proposition 8 (though not much substance as to why).

What’s missing, however, is any reference to this being a Mormon video or that the pretty young people are all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Nor do they admit that their support for the amendment is based in their church’s theology and unique beliefs about the nature of marriage. As apostle M. Russell Ballard said in a church broadcast this week:

We know that it is not without controversy, yet let me be clear that at the heart of this issue is the central doctrine of eternal marriage and it’s place in our Father’s plan.

Nope, they just slap this on their MySpace without explanation.

How very sad that a church has to specialize in secrecy and deception in order to try and influence the voters of California. I’ve lost a lot of respect for that denomination for their dishonesty in this campaign.

Utah Mormons Ratchet Up Pro-8 Student Phone Banking

Timothy Kincaid

October 8th, 2008

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on increased organized efforts to get students at Brigham Young to influence the vote in California.

But during a special satellite broadcast from Salt Lake City tonight to LDS chapels in Utah County as well as in California, LDS authorities are expected to ask Brigham Young University students and other Californians living in Utah to participate in phone trees in support of Proposition 8, which would define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.

A supporter of the initiative made a statement that reveals not only that this amendment is an attempt by the Mormon Church to influence elections but also that it seeks to do so deceptively.

“This is going to set a precedent,” said Kuder, who is in favor of the initiative. “The church has not been involved with politics in this way for a very long time. The church doesn’t want to make a statement in favor of Prop 8 but it wants members to be in favor.”

LDS Battle Plan for California Anti-Marriage Amendment

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2008

The message below, by public relations leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS, a.k.a “the Mormons”), was sent to Orange County LDS Public Affairs personnel and other church leaders in California.

A brief introduction of some the names mentioned below is in order. Elders Russell M. Ballard, Quentin L. Cook, and Dallin H. Oaks are members of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second highest presiding group under the direction of the First Presidency. Elder Lance B. Wickman is a member of that church’s First Quorum of the Seventy, a leadership group beneath the Quorum of the Twelve. L. Whitney Clayton is also a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy as well as the Presidency of the Seventy.


To: All OC Public Affairs Personnel
Cc: Other Interested Persons

By now many of you serving in Public Affairs may have been invited by your Stake Presidency to join other stake priesthood and auxiliary leaders in attending a special meeting. That was to discuss points that originated last Sunday, June 29, with a historic live interactive telecast emanating from SLC among Elders Ballard, Cook, Wickman and Clayton with CA Stake Presidents.

We have been asked to study out the above issue -– starting with the First Presidency letter that was read in Church last Sunday and the Proclamation on the Family. [That letter is available here (PDF: 1,08KB/2 pages) — ed.] You should all have copies of these items. As the year goes on, Public Affairs is apt to get ever more involved, under proper Priesthood direction. This will be especially true after Labor Day, when getting out the vote will be crucial. Meanwhile we are asked to use “our best efforts” and to do “all we can” to support this initiative with both our “means and time.”

To help you get prepared, here are some pertinent materials I have gathered on this issue, for your summer reading.

1. In Re Marriage Cases. See attached PDF summary of these consolidated cases, as issued by the Cal Sup. Ct. on 5-15-08. The majority decision is 121 pages long plus concurring and dissenting opinions. Essentially, the court has determined that any classification based on sexual orientation is a “suspect classification” that requires “strict scrutiny” under the “equal protection” clause of the CA Constitution. It also found that the CA Constitution has granted a “fundamental right to marry.” In 1948, that enabled the court invalidate statutory restrictions on interracial marriage. On these grounds, the court then proceeded to invalidate the existing statutory restrictions on same-gender marriages that were passed as Proposition 22 in 2000.

2. The Protectmarriage.com website. This is the key website of the central coalition of churches and other organizations that have been promoting what is now Prop. 8 for over a year. You will first see a list of member organizations and sponsoring individuals belonging to this coalition. Also see links on the left-hand side for “FAQS” and some good talking points under “Why it is needed.”

3. LDS.org Website. See this long but exceptionally important and well articulated 2007 interview by Public Affairs with Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Lance B. Wickman on “Same-Gender Attraction.” It is at: http://newsroom.lds.org/ ldsnewsroom/ eng/ public-issues/ same-gender-attraction

4. Meridian Magazine. “What difference will same-gender marriage make to you?” See this link: http://www.ldsmag.com/ familyleadernetwork/ 080627marriage.html Also see http://www.ldsmag.com/ familyleadernetwork/ 080619ignore.html These articles explore some of the possibly unintended consequences of this recent Cal. Supreme Court decision.

5. NB Stake Talking Points. See attached PDF with some key talking points created by my own Newport Beach Stake President Weatherford Clayton. More official talking points will are being prepared and will be provided through proper channels by LDS Church HQ in Salt Lake City.

6. Church News Article. From 2004 issue on the benefits of families raised within male-female marriages

HISPANICS AGAINST PROP 8. See first email attached above.
HISPANICS WHO SUPPORT IT. See email #3 attached above.

As the June 20th First Presidency letter said, more information will be made available to you from time to time through local priesthood channels.

You may also be aware that the new Managing Director of LDS Public Affairs in SLC will be Michael Otterson. He has been serving as assistant to Bruce Olsen and is originally from Australia. Brother Olsen will be the new San Diego Temple President.

Most sincerely,
Joseph I. Bentley, Director
Orange County Public Affairs
[Personal contact information redacted — ed.]

[Hat tip: Nick Literski]