Thursday, October 09, 2008

my biased summary of last night's prop 8 pep rally/fireside

this is a quick and definitely biased summary of last night's prop 8 fireside/rally. though the language is obviously biased, i assure you the content is factuall correct. i wrote it up as a comment on another blog, which explains the quick and erratic sentence structure.

Not only was there no explicit reference to it not being optional, it was made very explicit that it was a duty of every able Latter-day Saint in California to participate. Young Single Adults were asked to devote 4 hours a week (including 3 hours on Saturdays) to the effort. Afterwards my Stake president pointed out that Church headquarters designated a monetary goal for each stake, and then gladly announced that our stake had exceeded the $64,000 quota assigned to us.

The "special challenges" alluded to Latter-day Saints who are homosexuals (or as they liked to say, "suffer from same-gender attraction." It was heavily emphasized that those who support Prop 8 are on God's side, but no explicit claim was made about whose side those who oppose it are on.

Arguments for Prop 8 centered on marriage being "divine" and "ordained of God" and that we need to pass legislation to protect the divinity of marriage. Other arguments were made about protecting the tax-exempt status of the church, protecting our right to teach our doctrines, protecting children from being taught that some children have two daddies, and 'ensuring that families are still welcome in California.' Heavy emphasis was made in the word 'tolerance' being hi-jacked by political correct liberals to mean tolerate sin, and that we shouldn't have to tolerate and allow people to worship and live as they please - but that we should be able to use our religious beliefs to limit the practices, worship, and rights of others.

A short video was also shown which critiqued constitutional republics and promoted mob-rule democracies as a better form of government, and how the failure to pass Prop 8 will result in a gender-less society.

It was also taught last night that 'real' families are only those which are headed by parents which are capable of bearing children.

As you can probably tell, I left the fireside/pep rally very brokenhearted and angry. I had a few friends leave early in tears. As such, my review is probably very biased.


  1. Arguments for Prop 8 centered on marriage being "divine" and "ordained of God" and that we need to pass legislation to protect the divinity of marriage. . . . [W]e should be able to use our religious beliefs to limit the practices, worship, and rights of others.

    "We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied." (D&C 134:9)

    Other arguments were made about protecting the tax-exempt status of the church, protecting our right to teach our doctrines

    From In re Marriage Cases:

    "[A]ffording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs."

    LDS law professor Kaimi Wenger has indicated that this portion of the opinion would be very difficult to challenge, because it is essential to the holding of the case.

    It sounds as if the other arguments have already largely been addressed here.

    A short video was also shown which critiqued constitutional republics and promoted mob-rule democracies as a better form of government.

    Um, what was this!?

  2. Now, all those super-rich Mormons living in New London, CT better watch out! The Church is coming for your money!

  3. 1. "To be recognized as tax-exempt under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must have purposes and activities that do not violate fundamental "public policy," a concept that neither the Supreme Court nor the IRS has fully defined. In Bob Jones v. US the IRS revoked the federal tax exemption of the university because the school prohibited interracial marriage and dating among its students. The university's claim that its prohibition on interracial dating was religiously grounded and therefore protected by the 1st amendment was dismissed"--Weekly Standard, May 15, 2006
    The tax exempt question is still a question especially if sexual orientation nondiscrimination laws become "public policy" similar to racial nondiscrimination laws. However, whether or not tax exemption should be an issue for a church is another question. Some beleive that churches are coerced to act in certain ways, give up parts of their missions, etc. in order to maintain tax exemption. Perhaps churches would be more free to support political or civic issues if it did not worry about tax exemption. On the otherhand, churches that rely on the tax exemption to operate may be driven out of the market--only the largest churches would survive.
    2. Criticisms that the church should spend money collected for yes on prop 8 to feed the poor: First, the church does feed the poor. Second, the church is involved in this debate because it is a moral issue. Churches function as moral teachers. To be homosexual is to have homosexual sex or have inclinations to homosexual sex. Whether or not someone should have sex at all is very often a moral question.
    3. A gender neutral marriage law: "When we pass a law that says you may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, we are burdening those who have an alternative moral assessment of gay men and lesbians."--Chai Feldblum. The fact is the church cares deeply about this issue and the gay community cares deeply about this issue. One side will necessarily be burdened. For the gay person, her right to have a state legitimized union called marriage is burdened if Prop. 8 passes. She may also feel discriminated against because she is excluded from apractice that others are allowed. For the church member, if she works for the county issuing marriage liscences, she will have to act against her religious beliefs in her work. Other burdens to a church may arise such as school teaching (though I know the commercials are nauseating and the threat may seem distant) or like the Catholic Charities of Boston case (an adoption agency left the market because of foreseeable litigation concerning placement with a homosexual couple.) Church members in these situations may feel discriminated against because they are not allowed to practise what they believe. There is a trend towards accepting and legitimizing gay sex as morally equivalent to marital sex (and by extension LDS marital sex). Naturally, for the church to be a church, it expends resources now doing what it is fundamentally supposed to do: teach morals and draw distinctions.
    *Sadness and anger about the church's decision to promote prop. 8 could stem from a belief that (1)gay sex is morally equivalent to marital sex (I throw out all status/conduct distinctions because, as Ms. Feldblum says: "It seems to me the height of disingenuousness, absurdity and indeed disrespect, to tell someone it is permissible to "be" gay, but not permissible to engage in sex. What do they think being gay means?" or (2) gay sex is not morally equivalent with marital sex but we should not tell other people how they should act. (though we do that all the time, even with sex--statutory rape, incest, etc.)(3) the church should carry the burdens of a marriage nondiscrimination law.

  4. Dewey,
    As someone who has actually studied Bob Jones v. US, in law school as opposed to in some neocon rag, count me as still not worried about the Church losing its tax-exempt status. By the time that case came around, segregation and de jure racial discrimination had been legislated out of existence nationally for years. The IRC public policy threshold is pretty high. It will take a long time to make acceptance of gay marriage a matter of public policy.
    On the other hand, tax exemptions are a matter of "legislative grace." Nobody, not even the Church, has a right to one. I don't see anything about a tax exemption in the scriptures.

    Don't bore us with the political/moral distinction. Poverty is an incredibly moral issue, and one utterly ignored by pretty much the entire Christian world, including us, with the possible exception of the Catholics. In reality, we have no idea how much or little the Church does for the poor. Its the whole lack of financial transparency. But I can tell you that we have never been called out in such forceful terms to knock doors and solicit huge donations for the impoverished. And fast offerings? Puh-leez. We all do it to get whatever blessings we happen to be fasting for, and not because of any genuine feeling of solidarity with the poor.

    You are right of course about the fact that some kind of burden has to land on somebody. We merely have to decide whose interest should win. For my part, I think that the interest of a gay person in having a legitimized and legal relationship with a beloved partner trumps a Church member's abstract feeling of ickiness about gays. Currently, apart from gays and lesbians, the right to marry is a fundamental right per the US Constitution. However, the right to be free from icky feelings and discomfort is not.

  5. ahlduke,

    i believe that there are many saints who truly do fast for the primary intent of helping the poor. though they may be in the minority relative to those who fast with the primary intent of some sort of self (or other)-interest. either way though, as elder christopherson said as week ago, it isn't enough.

  6. Narrator,

    OK I admit my "all" was a little overstated. But I still think there are probably 2-3 folks (or families) doing it each Sunday. That purpose of fasting and fast offerings has largely been deemphasized in discussions of the general purpose of fasting. Its all about drawing closer to the Lord and getting those extra special blessings that mere prayers won't get us.

  7. ahlduke,

    i am reminded of isaiah's rebuke of those who forgot the primary intent of the fast in isaiah 58:6-7.

    "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?"

    ironically, at least one stake here in california had a special stake-wide fast for prop 8 to pass. too bad isaiah isn't around anymore. i know he's readily available in the scriptures... but i'm sure people will find away to spiritualize away the plain and precious truths that he taught.


Please provide a name or consistent pseudonym with your comments and avoid insults or personal attacks against anyone or any group. All anonymous comments will be immediately deleted. Other comments are subject to deletion at my discretion.