Who will defend us? Some reasons to give thanks

Please read this article. Here’s the highlight:

On the last day of the election, anti-Prop 8 forces ran a “home invasion” ad depicting two young Mormon missionaries ransacking homes. The ad further accuses Mormons in California of trying to take over the government because, as citizens, they participated in the political process by voting and donating to a cause they believed in. A week after the election The Los Angeles Times editorial board opined that No on Prop 8 forces should run more “hard-hitting” ads like “home invasion,” along with more “in-your-face radicalism.”

On the “Dr. Phil” show last week I sat next to a powerful politician — Mayor Gavin Newsom — who ritually rejected violence but refused to decry these extraordinary threats to ordinary voters’ livelihoods. I also sat next to Joe Solmonese, head of the Human Rights Campaign, when a young Mormon in the audience asked him, “Why are you singling out my faith when so many other people supported Prop 8?” Did Joe, an amiable guy, take a moment to call his troops to back off from religious bigotry, to refocus on the larger problem — 7 million Californians disagree with his organization’s gay marriage civil rights dogma?

No. I sat silent, dumbfounded, next to Joe when he pointed at the young man and cried, “We are going to go after your church every day for the next two years unless and until Prop 8 is overturned.”

Is there any doubt that we are in the middle of a cultural war?

Earlier this week, yet another Church member was forced to resign because he dared to contribute to a political cause. The number of blacklisted Mormons seems to grow every day.

I will leave aside the reason that we are being targeted specifically — that has been our destiny ever since the First Vision — but I will ask: who are our allies, our defenders? Ultimately, we know that our principal defender is the Savior Himself, the King of Kings. No matter what they do to our church and our Earthly bodies, they cannot damage a soul dedicated to the Gospel and building the Kingdom here on Earth.

But meanwhile, who will do what is right, who will help defend the principle of democracy, of freedom to vote as we please, freedom to participate in the democratic process? During the persecutions in Missouri and Illinois, we had a great defender, Alexander Doniphan. Doniphan helped lessen the impact of the Missouri extermination order and protected the prophet Joseph Smith when he was ordered to be executed.

Nobody is talking about murdering Mormons, which is what happened to us in Missouri and Illinois. But a great many people are talking about pursuing the Church and its members in other ways: picketing temples, going after tax exemptions and going after the livelihoods of people who dare to think and vote differently than them. And, most crucially, when they are confronted with the inhumanity of persecuting a specific religious group, they justify almost any action because we are Mormons. Stop and think for a second: would society at large tolerate such behavior against Jews, against Muslims? The clear answer is no, but Mormons appear to be a completely unprotected minority, free to be vilified and persecuted without repercussions.

If you read the Church web site, it is clear that Church public affairs is doing everything it can to protect the Church and call for tolerance of our viewpoints and respect for our rights to participate in the political process on moral issues.

But who has stepped up to the plate so far to defend our Church? Well, so far it is primarily the “religious right.”

Now is the time for traditional Christians — Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox — to come to the aid of our Mormon friends. They put themselves on the front line of the traditional marriage battle like no other church group. And now individual Mormons are paying a terrible price for standing up for something we all believe in. I don’t know how we can stand with them from afar, but at least we can thank them, and speak out when we see them being abused. We might also think again about how we view them. I’m with John Mark: I have deep disagreements with Mormon theology. But they are our friends and allies and fellow citizens, and they deserve our thanks and support.

It is the religious right that is primarily behind this petition, which is a wonderful defense of our faith. Notice the prominent signature from James Dobson and many other “religious right” leaders.

So, as Thanksgiving approaches, I would like to give thanks to the modern-day Alexander Doniphans who stand up for what is right, even when it is difficult.

This entry was posted in General by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

53 thoughts on “Who will defend us? Some reasons to give thanks

  1. Big surprise…they support us when it’s their cause too.
    When it comes to voting for a Mormon president, it’s another story.

  2. … our rights to participate in the political process on moral issues.

    The big problem is that the world no longer sees homosexuality as a “moral issue”. The world probably doesn’t see much difference between our stance on gay marriage and Bob Jones University’s stance on interracial dating (except that BJU has finally seen the light). We’re quaint, backwards, out-of-step, uneducated, bigoted, prejudiced. We’re the Archie Bunkers of the 21st century.

    How does one counter that?

  3. I am not surprised that our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters “have our back”; Latter-day Saint relationships with Roman Catholicism have been quite good over the years. I was surprised and delighted to see folks like James Dobson signing petitions in support of our Church. Perhaps Proposition 8 will take the “edge” off our relations with the Protestant religious right.

  4. I understand how we as Latter-day Saints feel threatened by the reaction of the GLBT community to our involvement in Proposition 8 (and 102), particularly given the early history of misunderstanding and persecution of the Church. I also understand how our brothers and sisters in the GLBT community feel threatened and hurt by Proposition 8, particularly given the history of persecution by society at learge.

    I also think neither side is benefited from escalation of the battle of words and apocalyptic claims. I think the Church’s invitation to all involved to speak to one another respectfully and civilly and trying not to (in my words) demonize the other side, is good advice.

    I like Andrew Sullivan’s piece I saw posted today, urging some measure of restraint from the GLBT side. http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/11/stop-the-hate.html I agree with him that “[t]he key is finding those religious interlocutors open to listening,” to which I would add that another key would be finding those GLBT activists also open to listening.

    I believe that the principle articulated by President Eyring does apply even to this divisive issue:

    “The great peacemaker, the restorer of unity, is the one who finds a way to help people see the truth they share. That truth they share is always greater and more important to them than their differences. You can help yourself and others to see that common ground if you ask for help from God and then act. He will answer your prayer to help restore peace, as He has mine.

    “That same principle applies as we build unity with people who are from vastly different backgrounds. The children of God have more in common than they have differences. And even the differences can be seen as an opportunity. God will help us see a difference in someone else not as a source of irritation but as a contribution. The Lord can help you see and value what another person brings which you lack. More than once the Lord has helped me see His kindness in giving me association with someone whose difference from me was just the help I needed. That has been the Lord’s way of adding something I lacked to serve Him better.”

    Henry B. Eyring, “Our Hearts Knit as One,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 68–71

  5. Thanks for this, Geoff. I’m always happy to have my opinions of the religious right disproved. Dobson, even. It must be cold in hell.

  6. Geoff,

    It is indeed gratifying to see these people come to our defense, for once. However, I do not expect to hear a peep from them next April when general conference gets picketed.

    Also, as long as you are keeping lists of people who have called for mutual respect and an end to the vandalism and intimidation, you might want to include the Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah, which are both gay rights organizations. You can read about their statement here:

    http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=4794488

    The problem with culture wars is that it is often hard to tell who your allies really are.

  7. That last comment sounds harsher thatn I meant it to be.

    Yes, I am very grateful that people are coming to our defense, and I am especially grateful that those people come from both the left and the right.

    The guy who did polling for prop 8 has done other opinion research work which shows that 49% of U.S. citizens have an unfavorable view of our church and its members. That number is simply astounding to me, and would be unbelievable if poll after poll didn’t show the same result. The only way to explain it is to say that we have detractors on every side.

  8. Geoff, why do you bear false witness? The article you link clearly states that Raddon “offered to resign,” and the board accepted his resignation. There is nothing in that article to suggest that he was “forced to resign.”

    Please repent of your falsehood, Geoff, and correct it to state that due to fallout over his political contribution, Raddon chose to resign from his position.

  9. The only way to explain it is to say that we have detractors on every side.

    Really, Mark? So it’s not possible to explain those poll results, even in part, on actions or attitudes of LDS members? It’s all because innocent LDS, who have never done anything wrong, are being victimized by “detractors?”

  10. Nick, so it goes with blogging comments. I had originally said something like “and we also probably bear at leat part of the responsibility”, but with all the cutting, pasting, and editing I did, I lost that part. So I will say it here: LDS people undoubtedly are partly to blame for the way people see us. We can do lots better, and I hope that we will. We decry others when they play the victim card. It is certainly not appealing when we play the victim ourselves.

  11. I’m afraid if we were to “do lots better” that we’d only plummet on the approval rating scale.

    Raddon “chose” to resign because of intense criticism, and undoubtedly, the intense pressure that would have been forth coming from the Hollywood croud.

    So, yeah, it was his decision–a decision to “do or die” so to speak. And that IMO involves coercion–force if you will.

  12. And that IMO involves coercion–force if you will.

    (Shrug) Those who have a vested interest in portraying themselves as “victims” will find a way.

  13. It is the religious right that is primarily behind this petition, which is a wonderful defense of our faith.

    Yeah, and Matthew Holland just happens to sit on NOM’s board.

    http://www.sltrib.com/ci_11071617

    Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland’s son sits on the board of directors of the org that put up the petition.

    Shades of “Please sign my petition confirming how much we all appreciate me …”

  14. Mark Brown, well, in the grand karmic scheme of things, yes, people are accountable for their own actions. So, the fact that I exist and am here on Earth means certain things may or may not happen to me. However, taking that to the point that individual Church members deserve to be forced from their jobs and that temple and chapels deserve to be vandalized because Church members participated in the political process is a bit much, don’t you think?

    Chino Blanco and Nick, the fact that you can’t spare even a small tear for the people who have lost their jobs and the tactics of the “No on 8″ forces is an indication of where your hearts lie on this subject. By their fruits ye shall know them.

    Chino Blanco, I don’t care if all 12 apostles sign the document itself, it still bears the signatures of many other people who have come to the defense of the Church at this crucial time. Will you come to the defense of Church members and speak out for the right of individual Mormons to participate in the democratic process?

  15. Don’t be confused by Nick, people.
    Always remember, apostates fight against the Lord’s annointed.

  16. I just got an email from AFA, America Family Association, thanking the Church and asking their email list to sign it, and ask everyone they know to sign it.

    Gays launch hate attack against Mormons because of their support for traditional marriage
    Thank the LDS church for its support of Proposition 8
    Dear [NOYDMB],
    Homosexual activists have launched a hate campaign against the Mormons because of the church’s support for Proposition 8 in California. Prop 8 defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. Here are some examples of how gays are targeting Mormons:
    A lawsuit by Fred Karger, homosexual activist, claims that the Mormons violated election laws in California.
    Richard Raddon, director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, was forced to resign when it was discovered he contributed $1,500 to support Prop 8.
    Homosexual groups are calling for the revocation of tax-exempt status.
    For more examples, Google “Mormons prop 8.”
    The Mormons played a vital role in the Prop 8 battle, and traditional marriage would have lost had it not been for their support. While other churches were also involved in the battle to protect marriage – including Catholics and evangelicals – the homosexuals have singled out the Mormons as their target of anger.
    I urge you to sign the petition thanking the LDS for their good work in the marriage battle. Several nationally known leaders have already expressed their support. In addition to myself, the list includes Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship, Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, Paul Weyrich of Free Congress Foundation, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Gary Bauer of American Values. We will forward the petition to LDS leaders.
    The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has offered “prayerful support and steadfast solidarity” to the LDS church for its efforts on behalf of Proposition 8.

  17. NOYDMB, don’t worry, we’re on to Nick on this site. His game is to pretend to be reasonable and polite and then pick and pick and pick against the prophet and the apostles. Every once in a while, his comments cross the line and are quickly deleted. It is very frustrating for him. He is welcome to make comments that don’t violate our comments policy, but it’s difficult for him to contain his rage, so every once in a while the real Nick comes through.

  18. Richard Raddon, director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, was forced to resign…

    So the evangelicals at the “American Family Association” lie, too? Oh, wait…you all knew that already, before they stuck up for you. Enjoy it while you can, because sadly (really!), they’ll soon be back to biting your hands off and telling you that LDS are going to hell.

  19. Geoff, thanks.
    Can you send me a link to your comments policy (so that I too don’t ever cross the line)?

  20. I just realized that there’s another lie in the AFA statement:

    A lawsuit by Fred Karger, homosexual activist, claims that the Mormons violated election laws in California.

    No, there is no such lawsuit. Rather, Fred Karger wrote a formal complaint to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, aleging that the LDS church failed to report numerous “in kind” donations to support Prop 8, in the form of setting up telephone banks, sattelite broadcasts, commercials, etc. The FPPC has chosen to investigate these allegations, but has stressed that the decision to investigate must not be taken as a statement that they have found any wrongdoing.

    What do you think of this part, NOYDMB? “The Mormons played a vital role in the Prop 8 battle, and traditional marriage would have lost had it not been for their support.” Hasn’t the LDS church been arguing that they were not a “significant” part of getting Prop 8 passed? It almost makes me wish I’d received a copy of their e-mail directly, rather than just seeing it quoted on this blog.

  21. OK Nick,
    Let’s reverse the roles.
    Let’s say you work at a bookstore, that although isn’t owned by any church, has many religious books, and many conservative people frequent the bookstore. When they find out that you are a practicing gay, in favor of removing the tax exempt status of any church that teaches against gay marriage, etc, they choose to boycott the store. The protestors keep customers away, and the boss says, “I won’t fire you, but you need to work somewhere else.” You decide, it’d be better to move to a more open city and get a job in a different field. A gay group, starting a propaganda letter, says that you were forced to resign. We’ve now reversed the roles, is it still dishonest, or do you simply disagree with the sides?

  22. I think Nick, that for someone who is unable to spell “alleging”, you should pick hairs between lawsuits and complaints. It is imprecise, but so is misspelling.

  23. Nick, in general there has been a lot of spin about who “won” prop 8. Was it the 70% of black people who supported it, and the even larger percentage of Hispanics? Was it the 2% of the voting electorate Mormons? Was it 52% of the people who voted in the 2008 election? The statement was one person’s opinion. I know, that being a gay advocate, you will fight against religious people being allowed to vote, support political causes, or disagree with you, so I really don’t care what you think of the religious right. I only excised my name from the letter, nothing else was added. It was imprecise, but that’s not the most important part.

  24. Let’s say you work at a bookstore…

    Ironically, NYODMB, I was the manager of an LDS bookstore at the time I chose to come out of the closet and leave the LDS church. For the record, I submitted my resignation before making my decision public.

    When they find out that you are a practicing gay, in favor of removing the tax exempt status of any church that teaches against gay marriage, etc, they choose to boycott the store.

    I’m not sure, NYODMB, whether you’re assuming that gays all support “removing the tax exempt status of any church that teaches against gay marriage,” or if you’re accusing me of such a position. I have absolutely no problem with a church teaching anything it wants to–including that I’m a gay “apostate” who is going to the Telestial Kingdom. I really don’t know any gay men or lesbians who think a church should lose its tax exempt status for teaching whatever doctrine they wish to teach.

    The protestors keep customers away, and the boss says, “I won’t fire you, but you need to work somewhere else.” You decide, it’d be better to move to a more open city and get a job in a different field.

    He’d be right. Of course, in Raddon’s experience, the board of directors refused his first attempt to resign, and so far as I know, never suggested that he should resign. He submitted a second letter of resignation, and the board then accepted it.

    A gay group, starting a propaganda letter, says that you were forced to resign. We’ve now reversed the roles, is it still dishonest, or do you simply disagree with the sides?

    It’s still dishonest, and I would openly say so. It’s a little thing called integrity, NYODMB, which doesn’t depend on which “side” you’re on in an issue.

    I guess it troubles me that you think the answer would be different in your “role reversal.” It seems to suggest (and I hope I’m wrong) that you feel it’s okay for AFA and Geoff to say Raddon was “forced to resign,” just because they’re making that statement to reflect well on the side you support. I would hope that you feel honesty and integrity are important, whether they support your position or not.

  25. I know, that being a gay advocate, you will fight against religious people being allowed to vote, support political causes, or disagree with you,

    NYODMB, kindly show me where I have ever suggested that “religious people should not be allowed to vote, support political causes, or disagree with me.” I have never argued such a thing, nor do I believe it. Unfortunately, there are a tiny handful of extremists who think that the moment you criticize the position a religious person has taken, you are demanding that they lose the right to vote, etc.

    From your sentence structure, it appears that you take the known fact that I’m a gay man, and take that as sufficient “proof” that I hold the positions you accuse me of. Maybe that’s because you’re reading too much propaganda that really does accuse all gays and lesbians of such outrageous attitudes.

  26. Actually Nick, as usual, there is another possibility you have not considered.
    I would feel it is OK in both circumstances. I doubt that Raddon had just been waiting for the “right” time to resign. Most people wait to quite their current job until they have another one lined up. Unless he wanted to resign, he was forced. Sometimes I think it is OK to force someone to resign, and sometimes it is not. But in any case, if they don’t want to resign, but it becomes necessary, it isn’t quite a free choice. Now for Nicks willingness to always assume the worst about someone, well maybe there’s some God-sized whole in your heart.

    I do feel that honesty and integrity are important Nick, irrespective of my position. But I make different assumptions of what integrity are than you do. I think promising to do something the rest of your life doesn’t mean, “until I don’t want to any more.” That’s the true irony, nick says, “I’m the truly honest person because I denied my covenants and followed my heart.” versus, “I have a different definition of forcing a resignation.”

  27. Nick, all of your comments on several Mormon blogs say.

    “Oh boo hoo, you Mormons took a stand and now the gays are attacking you for it. You all have a persecution complex.”

    Your words betray your heart, side, and “integrity.”

  28. Unless he wanted to resign, he was forced.

    NYODMB, it appears to me that Raddon was truly surprised by the reaction to his donation, and made a mature decision that it was honorable to resign, rather than put his employer in jeapordy. Now, if he hadn’t resigned, maybe things would have gotten so bad that the board would have forced his resignation. More likely, it would have eventually blown over, as most things do. Until Raddon comes forward to say “the newspapers are wrong, and the board made me resign,” I’m going to believe he made an honorable choice on his own initiative. Mind you, if the board did force him to resign, he has every reason to say so, since he may have resulting legal claims against the board for doing so.

    I think promising to do something the rest of your life doesn’t mean, “until I don’t want to any more.”

    NYODMB, I understand where you’re coming from, even though I disagree. There are times that even a “for the rest of your life” promise should be ended. If an LDS woman marries for eternity in the temple, and her husband turns out to be a verbally and physically abusive monster, no sane person would criticize her for “violating her promise” by divorcing the beast. Many of your founding fathers no doubt had sworn oaths of loyalty to the British crown, and violated those oaths in declaring the American colonies independent (if we’d lost the Revolutionary War, those men would have been executed as “traitors”).

    The policies of the LDS First Presidency, along with the counsel of my last stake president, indicated that it was appropriate to openly and forthrightly withdraw from LDS membership–along with all the ordinances and covenants involved–than to violate those covenants while they remained intact. You, of course, are free to disagree with those authorities. For myself, however, I know that I did the honorable thing under the circumstances.

  29. Nick, all of your comments on several Mormon blogs say. “Oh boo hoo, you Mormons took a stand and now the gays are attacking you for it. You all have a persecution complex.” Your words betray your heart, side, and “integrity.”

    Well, you’re right that I don’t think LDS members should be surprised to receive a negative reaction from gays and lesbians, after they contributed 50-80% (depending on your sources) of the cash, and most of the volunteer hours, to get Proposition 8 passed. I have no “side” to “betray,” since I have never been secretive about my opposition to Proposition 8.

    To turn that into “religious people shouldn’t be able to vote, to support political causes, or disagree with you,” however, is a dishonest reaction, stemming from, as you say, a “persecution complex.” It’s also dishonest of you to declare that anyone who disagrees with you, NYODMB, automatically has an evil “heart” and lacks integrity.

  30. Well Nick, it takes a little bit of time to find the proof on all of the websites, I’m going through it, but, already knowing you aren’t under the covenant, I haven’t been collecting information on you like I have been K. Barney.

    He’s the first bit of evidence.
    fairblog.

    “Boo-hoo-hoo. LDS members, in direct response to the directive of their president (not to mention arm-twisting of their local leaders) contributed in excess of 2/3 of all donations, and the lion’s share of free labor, to promote an initiative which penalized gays and lesbians in the State of California. Then these LDS members boasted, in various fora, about how they were paying and doing more than other groups. Now, these same LDS members want to cry over how “persecuted” they are, when those they’ve persecuted rise up and cry foul. Now, these same LDS members are bawling, “We weren’t the only ones! Those other guys did it too! Why single us out?” ”

    Nick’s true colors, an intolerant individual, “boo hoo” who sees no problem with singling out one religious group because it is “weaker” in his eyes than the other.

  31. If the “Boo-hoo-hoo” makes me “intolerant” in your eyes, NYODMB, so be it. All it says, from my perspective, is that I don’t feel particularly sorry for those who engage in political activism, only to cry “persecution” when anybody reacts negatively.

    Of course, you were supposed to be finding anywhere that I’ve said that ““religious people should not be allowed to vote, support political causes, or disagree with me.” Keep trying, fella. I almost hope you waste your entire Thanksgiving day, not giving thanks, but chasing after “evidence” that doesn’t exist to back your condemnation of others.

  32. You know, I’ve been thinking about this, and have calmed down a lot about the attacks people are making against the Church and Mormons. I remain concerned by the tendency to single out racial and religious minorities for acts of violence in this, but it seems to be settling down.

    But the actions that are going on, if we can hold back from the “how dare they” thing, are pretty wimpy. Spray-paint on the temple? Throwing a temper tantrum in Sacrament Meeting? In my state, the backlash group claimed to have put superglue in the locks of the local ward building. Folks, we’re not facing a Missouri Mob, we’re facing high-school pranksters. This isn’t Haun’s Mill redone — this is reliving the big rivalry football game. If we’re not careful, they might short-sheet our beds! Or put some vaseline in our hair! Might even get a garment-wedgy!

    We’re not in danger here. Let’s just calm down and do something useful — like Home Teaching.

  33. I need to ask NYOMDB and Nick to move on. They’re getting off-topic into a personal battle that is really not appropriate. It’s Thanksgiving — go be with your friends and family. I have been. Peace and love, folks, peace and love (and Thanks!).

  34. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not that strident in its beliefs on homosexuality. In fact, they counsel full fellowship for celibate homosexuals.

    So far, no gay-rights activist has had the fortitude to burn a Qu’ran on the doorstep of a militant mosque where imams advocate the stoning of homosexuals (even celibate ones).

    Oh, I forgot, criticizing Moslems is off-limits for the Politically Correct.

  35. In fact, they counsel full fellowship for celibate homosexuals.

    So do most of the evangelical churches that the LDS are lifting their anti-gay rhetoric from—and yes, “We understand now that you really, truly, are gay, but you can’t have sex outside marriage, and we’ll do all we can to prevent you from getting married” is anti-gay.

    So far, no gay-rights activist has had the fortitude to burn…

    So far, nobody really knows the source of the burning Book of Mormon in Colorado. Frankly, I find the story a bit suspicious. LDS facilities Managers, outside Utah at least, cover a large regional area, and he just happened to be at the right individual LDS chapel. Then, he just happened to find the burning book on a sidewalk outside the building, while it was still in flames (which couldn’t have lasted long). He immediately tells law enforcement (in Colorado, not California) that “it may be retaliation” for the LDS campaign to pass Propositino 8. A so-far unidentified witness just happens to claim she saw “two men run toward a silver car and drive away,” since surely it couldn’t have been “a man and a woman.”

    Is it likely that the stunt was pulled by one or more complete cowardly idiots, who thought it was an appropriate method of protest? Yes, it’s likely. At this point, however, we don’t know for sure. It’s also possible that we have a less-than-honest LDS facilities manager, who staged the event to make “gay activists” look bad, since this event took place before some of the more obvious (and admitted or taken credit for) illegal vandalism incidents. I can’t help but think that if I was stupid and/or insane enough to leave a burning object at an LDS chapel in protest, first it wouldn’t be a book, which would be gone in a very short time. Second, I probably wouldn’t have placed it in such a way that it produced absolutely zero property danage. This whole “leave a burning Book of Mormon on the porch, safely away from causing any mark or damage” just seems like a truly silly stunt, to me.

  36. In some respects, I agree Mark. My partner and I went to see “Milk” last night (a film tragically rated “R,” so the people who need to see it won’t). Several clips were included from Anita Bryant, the 1970s darling of the evangelical anti-gay movement. Several direct quotations were also used by the actor portraying John Briggs, who introduced “Proposition 6,” which would have barred homosexuals or any “homosexual supporters” from teaching in public schools. I was struck by how the arguments of the religious right haven’t changed one bit, and in fact are continuing to use the same rhetoric. Heck, Anita Bryant even went on television to say how much she “loved” gays. Sad, sad, sad.

  37. Nick,

    This is a sentiment that seems common to the whole campaign that I obviously do not grasp. I wonder if you can take some time to explain further, since you seem to be one of the few to whom this issue actually makes any personal impact.

    Why do you find sadness in the attitude of such figures as Anita Bryant? Do you not rather mean to express anger, or somehow tell he that she has no right to feel the way she apparently feels?

    Does the fact that other people hold opinions which conflict with your own always strike you as somehow “sad”? What difference how others feel? You decided your present course knowing that some people objected, did you not?

    I ask such questions, and reserve many others, simply because the current event so baffle me. I am apparently one of the evil bigots that stand accused of so plaguing you, yet I find in my heart no ill-will. I and my ilk, what have we done that is wrong? I don’t claim any moral high ground, other than to follow the lead of the brethren. You apparently do not agree, and have chosen another course. So be it.

    Why, then, the slanted rhetoric? Is it to convince me that I am wrong? Or to reassure yourself, perhaps?

  38. Jim, I don’t think you quite understood what I was trying to convey above. In fact, I’m rather perplexed that you would accuse me of saying that Anita Bryant had “no right to feel the way she apparently [felt]” during the heyday of her campaigns. Why is it that when someone disagrees with them, religiously-based crusaders against gay rights automatically leap to “you don’t think I have a right to believe as I do!” or “you want to take away my right to free speech!” or “you’re trying to take away my right to vote!”? While I can’t guarantee there isn’t some looney-tune gay person in Idiotsville, Arkansas, who actually believes what you seem to think all homosexuals believe, I can tell you I haven’t met any gay person who thinks such a thing. In fact, I have several gay friends who consider themselves deeply religious—whether or not they agree with you on all points of theology.

    Jim, it does make me sad, when someone gets up and declares (as Anita Bryant and others have) that homosexuals aren’t worthy of equal civil rights (whether that be in the sense of marriage equality, employment discrimination protections, housing discrimination protections, etc.), or that homosexuals are “out to recruit children and have sex with them,” or that homosexuals have a united agenda to eliminate religion from the world, or that homosexuals “choose to be gay” and are simply in open rebellion against deity. It makes me sad, Jim, when someone gets up and declares (as Anita Bryant and others have), that the laws of this pluralistic nation must conform to the dictates of their particular religious faith, no matter what religious faith that may be.

    Why do these things make me sad, Jim? They make me sad, because I realize that a significant portion of Americans haven’t learned much in the last thirty years. They make me sad, because I see these people convincing themselves that “loving gays and lesbians” means passing legislation to make their lives miserable, in hopes that such things will force them to “repent” of being who they are. They make me sad, because every time one of these people get up and say such vile things, it takes away hope from another young person who knows deep down inside that they are different—and that young person just might be convinced by all that rhetoric that their difference makes them so unacceptable, that their life isn’t worth living.

    I hope what you say is true, Jim. I hope you truly find no “ill-will” in your heart. If so, maybe one day you’ll realize what you’re doing to others—people that your own religious faith considers children of deity, and you’ll re-think all the wicked lies and propaganda that people like Anita Bryant have spewed over the last three decades.

  39. Nick,

    I am not playing any games, this really is an issue about which I wish I had more answers. I know that there is probably some gulf of understanding between us that I can never cross. I am grateful to not be burdened with that particular cross to carry that might make me more personally involved. Suffice it to say that following the counsel of the brethren is the only resolution I have found to this thorny problem. I follow their lead even in matters where my own personal uncertainty precludes strict determination.

    I expect to stand before God in a very short time, and will probably be surprised to learn the truth about things. Perhaps Anita Bryant and I are completely wrong about this matter, and if so you are well justified in feeling angry about it all. But I can’t help my own continuing suspicion about any such rhetoric that tends so much toward one-sided polarization, and advocates such bitter antagonism.

  40. Jim, while I appreciate much of what you’re saying, I find it troubling that you insist on substituting “anger” and “bitter antagonism” for the sadness I described. Am I sometimes angry at those who seek to prevent homosexuals from receiving equal civil rights? Of course I am. Still, as I said, I find it all overwhelmingly sad—sad to know what so many young people are going through, as a result of hatred cloaked (sometimes even cloaked from the speakers themselves, I think) in the words of deity. It reminds me that there is much education still needed in our “modern,” “enlightened” society, and I know where the responsibility for that education ultimately sits—with people like me.

  41. What makes me sad is–we (the enlightened hippies) threw off the last vestiges of victorianism in such a flurry that now we have no idea how to live beyond ourselves.

  42. Nick,

    I find it ironic in the extreme that anyone presumes to lecture me about sadness. Thank you for that — perhaps I needed the humility.

    Anger is the underlying tone I read and perceive in much of the activist approach. It may not accurately characterize you personally, but when I read about bitter recriminations being leveled against masses of people, so many of whom I am sure are innocent of any particle of guilt, I interpret that motivation as a measure of angst.

    As I read your response, I am reminded of the testimony of Mormon, who as he watched the ultimate destruction of the Nephites, recognized the nature of their remorse and sorrow. They were not sorry in a manner that would move them to save themselves — only sorrowful to realize the inevitability of their fate. In my present circumstances, as I wait for the sure execution of my own death sentence, I think I appreciate this particular sentiment as well as any being can.

  43. Jim, I think I understand a little better where you’re coming from. It’s probably true that most sadness is tinged with a degree of anger. I work in a federal program which provides compensation to workers (or all too often, to their survivors) who worked in the nuclear weapons industry. These people were generally patriotic, and felt they were protecting their country. Now, they’re winding up with cancer and other horrible conditions. When I speak to them, their sadness is certainly blended with anger—in fact it’s hard to say sometimes which emotion comes out stronger. I understand, from your words, that you suffer from a terminal condition, and I’m truly sorry to hear that.

    Mormon’s lament centered on a group of people who, in his view, brought their sufferings upon themselves, through their wickedness. His description reflects my own experience in the field of criminal justice, where I’ve often seen habitual criminals who seemed unable to connect their own actions to consequences—instead, they saw their prison sentences and other punishments as evidence to prove that they were continual and inevitable victims of the police, the judges, etc., and they bemoaned their “victimhood.” Much of my own work involved helping young offenders to take responsibility for their own actions, and to understand that their chosen actions had certain consequences.

    I’m not sure, Jim, how you equate that sort of “sadness” with the sadness I’ve described. Perhaps it brings you peace to believe that gays and lesbians “deserve” some “inevitable” fate of discrimination, thus absolving (or even glorifying?) the actions of those who carry out the discrimination. Perhaps it even brings you peace to believe that a gay man who is beaten and killed by a complete stranger, merely because he was seen walking out of a gay bar, “deserved” his fate, and those left to mourn are just experiencing the “sorrow of the damned.”

    If you are truly so cold-hearted, Jim (and I suspect you really are not, despite your words), then I can only assume that you believe something that even your own church leaders have publicly repudiated—that people “choose” to be gay, and thus should “choose” not to be gay. That’s the only reason I can conceive of, that would make you declare that a young person–a pure and chaste virgin, even–who finds themselves attracted to others of their own biological sex is merely experiencing the “sorrow of the danmed” when they hear hated and vitriol spewed against people like them. Perhaps you feel that Stuart Matis, an active, faithful LDS virgin in his 30s who happened to be gay, was driven to commit suicide because he didn’t have the “right” kind of sorrow that would make him “repent” by becoming heterosexual.

    When you equate these people with those described by Mormon, I can only think that you see the “ultimate destruction” of gays and lesbians on the horizon. Perhaps you even believe that passing legislation such as Proposition 8 will help you to bring about that “ultimate destruction,” whether through “fortunate” suicides or through exerting enough pressure to force magical, universal changes in sexual orientation. Good luck with that, Jim.

  44. Nick, oh brother, now you have really shown your true stripes. Deliberately twisting the words of somebody to justify your own persecution complex.

    But this is illustrative of the larger subject of this post, which is the persecution complex of today’s radical gay activists, which has caused them to lash out at our church for simply participating in the political process. Case in point is the planned disruption of the Mesa temple winter ceremony. No protests are planned at Catholic and evangelical churches — only the Mesa temple is being targeted. It seems pretty clear that the Lord’s church is the target simply because it is the Lord’s church.

    I think I can speak for the vast majority of Latter-day Saints when I say that we could care less what people do in their bedrooms. I try my best to have compassion for all people and treat everybody with respect. I very often fail, but I keep on trying. Personally, I am in favor of laws that protect against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. I have no problem with people visiting each other in the hospital and saying they are next of kin. I have no problem with people make private contractual relationships for inheritance purposes, etc.

    What Nick and most homosexual activists don’t understand — or pretend not to understand — is that most people like myself are on the defensive. We don’t care what people do in their own homes, but it appears that radical gay activists do care what WE do in our own homes and in our own churches. And now they are even trying to tell us we cannot participate in the political process and enjoy our democratic rights without potentially losing our jobs. We are extremely concerned about what gay activists want to teach our children in the schools, and the gay marriage experiment in Massachusetts — and the experiences of my own family in California — has shown that gay activists want the complete normalization of gay sex so that the act itself is shown and taught and celebrated with people as young as fourth and fifth graders. Most parents want the right to keep sexual discussions private, but this is not good enough for radical gay activists, as history has shown.

    So, the fight about marriage is important because marriage is important. But at the end of the day this is really a fight for the freedom of Mormons to worship as they please and to raise their children the way they want to. And, yes, these days we are primarily on the defensive against people who want to force us to accept their beliefs and keep us from the political process entirely. It is very similar to the environment of the 1830s and 1840s of Missouri and Illinois. And that is why this post has been written.

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