Saturday, November 8, 2008

Thousands in downtown SLC protest the LDS church's Prop 8 involvement

temple-gay-flagThis is just excellent. Apparently thousands of people swarmed downtown Salt Lake City last night, to protest the Mormon church's involvement in passing Proposition 8 in California. I really wanted to be there, but I needed to spend some time with my family, and that's more important. Gee, it's nice for me to be able to spend time with my legally wedded spouse and our children, don't you think? I wish everyone were able to enjoy the same privilege.

Shockingly, the church finds the protest "disturbing" and objects to being "singled out" for exercising its right to free speech. Well, here's a news flash. When you, a large tax-exempt religious institution, claim that your leaders speak for God and then mobilize your membership by telling them that they need to vote in a certain way on a particular political proposition regarding the civil issue of same-sex marriage... you're going to get singled out.

You can't have it both ways. On the one hand, you call this issue your "Gettysburg", read letters about Prop 8 from the pulpit, call for donations and volunteers, organize call chains, and generally make it felt that every member of your religious organization in the state of California is expected to sacrifice for the cause of taking away others' right to marry. On the other hand, you act surprised and hurt when those whose rights have been stripped become angry, members of your own church actively voice their disapproval, and thousands of protesters show up at your doorstep to protest your coordination of this exercise in codifying discrimination into law. Pardon my candor, but what the hell did you expect?

In the comments to the Salt Lake Tribune article linked above, a commenter named slgb8 condemned the protesters, saying that the church has its own right to free speech and the protesters were trying to take that away. He said:

Don’t take rights away from others that you would not want to have taken from you. I think we should be careful not to take away others rights to free speech even when we don’t agree with them. We could start the country on a road the end with none of us having basic rights.

I agree with that completely, but Prop 8 is not a free speech issue. It's an issue of marriage. Let's substitute the phrase "free speech" with the word "marriage", shall we?

Don’t take rights away from others that you would not want to have taken from you. I think we should be careful not to take away others rights to marriage even when we don’t agree with them. We could start the country on a road the end with none of us having basic rights.

Much more relevant. It's the correct idea, but this particular commenter had the wrong idea about who is attempting to take away rights from whom. In fact, who has succeeded in doing so.

I seriously am about as close to resigning my membership as I ever have been. This has been an emotional election season, and I am emotional as I type this, but I think that even with a clear head and a calm spirit, I do not want to be part of an organization that so confidently proclaims its willingness to take away others' rights. That is the exact opposite of what I hope to stand for.

12 comments: said...

That's funny, dude. I didn't have to resign my membership from the LDS church; my ex-wife did it for me!

I suppose that was a good thing, since I was already Atheist anyhow...

I wonder if Plato ever realized just how far-reach his 'Allegory of the Cave' would actually be when he wrote it. He was thinking purely dimensionally, or was he?

What do I mean? Well, just as we're born into a world that only truly understands the concept of three dimensions, and reaches to understand a fourth, we are all born into a certain type of environment as well.

In Utah, we're unfortunate enough to be born into an environment that tries to teach you that it's bad to think for yourself; the answer is always prayer, which is really just an individual's desire to reach for the answers that already reside within them - usually, answers that were installed by their parents, church, friends, peers, etc.

I wonder how we get around that? I give that idea a ton of thought, if only because it would be truly cool to see someone transcend our three-dimensional understanding, let alone an installed belief in a man-made control mechanism such as their Judao-Christian god.

I cannot fucking believe this thing passed.

Sabayon said...

Yes protesters are not in fact people exercising their own freedom of speech, but evil fifth-columnist trying to take that right away from others. Does "we must stop these people speaking, it is a violation of freedom of speech" not seem patently absurd to anyone else? I can't help but think that somewhere along the way they missed the point.

Benjamin May said...

All I have to say...

Saganist said...

It certainly is interesting how the LDS newsroom chooses to spin the situation, isn't it? Always the victim, persecuted by evil thugs simply for standing up for what is right and virtuous.

Are Mormons being "attacked" by "bigots"? Maybe, but I'm not aware of anything like that happening. First, the Mormon church is not being attacked. Protests and editorials are fair play in this country. Disagreement is not injury. Second, the objections I've seen are a response to the LDS church's actions, not baseless bigotry against Mormons. The LDS church is truly not the victim here.

There are several reasons why I personally choose to focus my comments on the LDS church as opposed to the Catholic church or any other.

1. I am a member of the LDS church. This is my church, and I strongly disagree with the actions of the leadership. I feel it is my duty to speak out.

2. Supporters of Prop 8 may have come from a variety of backgrounds (mostly religious, which provides a clue as to why I think Prop 8 is such a bad constitutional amendment, that pesky bit about separation of church and state), but the lion's share of financial backing came from members of the LDS church at the behest of church leadership. The percentage of financial and other contributions provided by Mormons far surpassed their percentage of the population. It is disingenuous to say that "Mormon voters were only a small part of the groundswell"; Mormon volunteers ran the majority of this campaign from start to finish.

3. I'm not aware of any other church that specifically told its members to volunteer, donate, and vote in a specific way on Prop 8. Maybe such a letter from the Pope was read during every Catholic Mass in California, but if that happened, I'm not aware of it. I do not agree with the use of religious services and facilities for the purpose of mobilizing a political campaign.

Individual persons of any religious persuasion are free to do whatever they want, of course. What I object to is the church institution imposing itself so strongly in a political way. This is a tax-exempt organization that I have personally given many thousands of dollars. If this is how they choose to behave, I don't think they should be able to do it with the support of the government, much less my own support.

One last thing; I always find it amusing when I hear things like this quote, from Bishop William Weigand in the press release you referenced:

"Catholics stand in solidarity with our Mormon brothers and sisters in support of traditional marriage — the union of one man and one woman — that has been the major building block of Western Civilization for millennia."

I seem to remember that sometime within the last few millennia, Brigham Young was saying things like this in the Deseret News:

"Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire. . . . Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers. . . .

Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord's servants have always practiced it. "And is that religion popular in heaven?" It is the only popular religion there . . ."

Strange bedfellows indeed.

Rebecca said...

Too funny. I posted a link on my facebook account because I think this perfectly counteracts the tragic claims of my Mormon friends that, aw, people hate them! Wah, wah, wah! Poor babies.

I had a friend who honestly argued that allowing gay marriage takes away the rights of the conservatives to have an opinion, and that if gay marriage is legal it takes away his rights because people think he's a bigot. Um...huh? And now that gay marriage is illegal in CA? Now he's whining that people still think he's a bigot! Poor baby.

Holly said...

you call this issue your "Gettysburg"

so those of us who support gay marriage are the moral equivalent of the defenders of slavery? Wow! That's nasty.

One of the important things about Gettysburg is that Meade, the Union general, was fairly inept. His mismanagement of the Northern Army meant that Union losses were much greater than they needed to be. So maybe in that way, the comparison is apt. The church is sure getting more carnage than it expected.

I was at the rally. One of the best speakers was dragged off the stage for being "too radical"--meaning that he pointed out that currently there are men among the brethren who violate the "one woman, one man" definition of marriage in that they are sealed to multiple women. The unwillingness of people to confront the hypocrisy of the church is remarkable.

Benjamin May said...

My biggest complaint with all of the hoopla that has arisen from prop 8 is that on the one hand we have Obama as our new president. Ok... moved on and have started to decide how to best work/help the new administration. However, this same group of Californians that overwhelming voted for Obama has voted FOR proposition 8. What's that a liberal state voting conservatively? Last time I checked "democracy" consisted of meeting in the middle, and here the people have spoken. We can't all have everything the way we want, and that is what makes our country great. Prop 8 passed, and people need to live with that.

While I personally do not think that I would have actively campaigned for prop 8, I don't think the Church overstepped its bounds by using the vehicles set up by our forefathers to participate in the democratic process.

"one nation under God"

MoHoHawaii said...

I continue to be amazed at how divisive this issue is.

Maybe the Church's real goal was to radicalize its membership by weeding out moderates. By the looks of who's planning on resigning the memberships, that may be the result intended or otherwise.

Saganist said...

@Sabayon: Yes, the idea that protesters are taking away the church's (or individual Mormons') right to free speech is just silly. C.L. Hanson has an excellent post on this issue, with a point-by-point response to the LDS "please don't single us out" press release.

A relevant quote from her post: "But seriously folks, free expression 101: your right of free speech doesn’t guarantee you protection from having other people tell you that what you freely said was wrong. You know it, and I know you know it, so please cut the B.S."

Saganist said...

I had a friend who honestly argued that allowing gay marriage takes away the rights of the conservatives to have an opinion

@Rebecca, this is very strange and something I've heard a lot in the past few days. How exactly does marriage equality take away anyone's right to believe whatever they want? Does the legality of abortion mean that everyone must believe abortion is OK? I just don't get the idea that because someone in society is allowed to do something I don't agree with, my own rights are somehow being violated.

Saganist said...

@Ben, I am hopeful that just as Obama will not be our president forever, neither will the new California amendment or similar state amendments stay around forever. I believe one of the greatest things about our country is our ability to speak out against injustice and work for reform. I plan to do so in whatever way I can, to make our nation even better than it is. I would guess that in 50 years, marriage equality for homosexuals will be a reality in the same way that interracial marriage has gained mainstream acceptance in the last 50 years. At least I hope so.

A note about "one nation under God" - it wasn't added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954. The nation established by our forefathers was a distinctly secular one, and I think the notion that this is a "Christian nation" is a relatively modern invention. I believe the government's official agnosticism toward religion is one of its greatest strengths, and incidentally, I think it's also what allows religion to thrive here.

Jake said...

Wasn't "under God" added to distinguish us from the "godless communists?"

Anyway, I don't really understand the fuss on either side of the issue. What exactly do proponents of same-sex marriage want? Do they want the legal benefits of marriage? Or, do they want their union to be called marriage by the state? For those against same-sex marriage, do they oppose same-sex couples having the legal benefits of marriage? Or, do they oppose calling such unions marriage?

It seems to me that it basically comes down to the word used to describe a same-sex union. Especially in states, like California, which already had/have civil unions which give civil unions the same rights as traditional marriage, I don't see how changing the name of the union to marriage changes much of anything. For those against it, how can changing the name of the union actually affect your personal or religious life? For those for it, why does it matter so much what the state calls it? Would it make either side happy if the only recognized civil unions for both hetero and same sex couples, leaving the definition of marriage up to a specific religion? Religion being a general term to describe any sort of spiritual group.

I much prefer reasoned well-thought arguments as opposed to appeals directly religion or civil rights. Personally, I need a source other than God said so, since the people god speaks through are not perfect, and may make a mistake. Also, before an appeal is made to civil rights, I need to be convinced that the said right is in fact a fundamental right, and that it is in fact being violated. Simply saying it is so is nothing more than asserting a false fact, and I need something real to be persuaded.