Thursday, October 9, 2008

Eye opening

I received the following email from a member of my ward - a forward of an email he received from somebody in California which was a forward of another email (I preserved the highlighting in the email)
---------- Forwarded Message ----------
I don't know if you're aware of what's going on politically here in California right now but for the first time in my life I've seen the church take a stand on a political issue to the extent that we've had Ward gatherings for the past three weeks to physically canvas neighborhoods and make phone calls to registered voters to educate them about the language and affects of Proposition 8. I guess I was kind of oblivious to the wider reaching affects that this could have on all church members but found this informative e-mail interesting and decided to forward it on to you.

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
Subject: eye opening

In a recent LDS Sacrament meeting in California,
the focus was on Amendment 8. (The gay marriage issue.) one of the speakers who was an LDS judge in the area, had statistics that were 'mind blowing'.

For example, in Boston, MA (where gay marriages are now legal,) the
Catholic Charities have closed their doors because the state has required them to allow adoptions to same sex couples, and they refused. They are a large and worthwhile charity with great power in the state and they were overruled.

A Methodist church has lost their tax exempt status because the minister refused to perform a marriage of a same sex couple (they were not of his congregation).

A physician who refused to do fertility treatments on a same sex couple because of religious reasons was sued, lost and the state is requiring him to treat everyone as equals.

Our schools will be required to teach, starting in kindergarten, that marriages make up many different combinations. The consequences are horrible.

Directly tied into ALL of this is our right to continue to go to the Temple. If Gay Marriage is supported by the government, then those who are same-sex married, who are 'LDS' and legally recognized as married by the government, can sue to be married in the temple.&nbs p; It is my opinion that the church will not bend on this issue, and our rights to go to the temple will be in jeopardy.

AND goodbye to those religious tax-deductions. Tithing, fast offerings, etc. We will lose our tax-exemption status if the government legally forces the church to support same-sex marriage'

These effects are far-reaching! I hope no one is upset by this email, I would not want to offend anyone, but I believe this issue is not a poli tical issue at all, but a moral issue that affects all of society.

The Proclamation on the family clearly gives a warning voice on this matter. I pray that this issue on the ballots will overturn the gay marriages occurring right now in that state, and help prevent other states from adopting this stance.
I believe that it is important to support and defend traditional marriage, home and family.

Another friend says that her relatives in Sweden are even watching what goes on in California. Friends in Canada are watching. The whole world is watching to see what happens.
I find it interesting that this good brother felt it necessary to forward a clearly political email to members of the ward - even though using the ward list for political purposes is expressly forbidden. He is in a leadership position and part of the ward council; so, I'm sure he understand this.

I know this person well, and he is a good man. I expect he does not view it as a political issue - he views it as a moral issue. There was no need to do any fact checking because it supports the views of homosexuals that he has been taught his entire life - it makes sense to him. It is further proof of Satan's "homosexual agenda" being forced upon the righteous. He likely felt it his moral duty to warn others of this insidious plan unfolding in California.

After all, the views expressed in this email are also expressed by an official web site of the LDS church

Preserving the Divine Institution of Marriage

These views are given credibility by Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the LDS church talking to a group of young adults

In the above video, Elder Bednar says
You're going to have the possibility of the inevitable clashes between religious liberty and free speech; and, if your religious doctrine is such that you believe marriage between a man and a woman is the only definition of marriage then that smacks up against free speech; because if marriage is defined in a more broad way between members of the same gender - then you can't talk about that.
I'm sorry, but I expected our church leaders were above fear mongering. Don't we already have clashes between our religious doctrine vs legal and traditional definitions? Who is telling us we can't talk about marriages performed outside of a temple as being for time only, or that the consumption of alcohol is forbidden by God? Where are the legal challenges to our teaching of sexual abstinence before marriage? Gay marriage is already legal in Massachusetts - can anybody point to a single case where a church was legally warned about preaching against gay marriage? Is there any legal precedent to support this claim that the rights of churches to preach that marriage is between a man and a woman will be curtailed if prop 8 passes? Are you seriously trying to convince me that free speech will protect the rights of the KKK to say horrible things about jews and people of color, but it won't protect churches right to preach against gay marriage?

(as an aside, from a grammatical viewpoint - what does "the possibility of the inevitable" mean???)

Contrast this with the latest ad from the "No on 8" campaign

The savior taught "Ye shall know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:16). Are the fruits of misrepresentation of facts and fear mongering really what the Savior intended? Is this issue so important that we have to win - at any cost? Does the end justify the means?

Yes, this is eye opening indeed - but not in the way intended.


Kengo Biddles said...

"If Gay Marriage is supported by the government, then those who are same-sex married, who are 'LDS' and legally recognized as married by the government, can sue to be married in the temple." Excuse, me, but BULLCRAP.

It's as simple as the church Excommunicating the very folks who want to go into the temples. Freedom of Religion, folks....

Fear-mongering load of BULLCRAP.

(Had to impose mind-filter so your blog didn't lose its G-rating)

Yes, as Latter-day Saints, we should hold to the tenets of the church that Homosexuality is a sin, and against the plan of God. By extension, legal rights based on that should fall under the same Point of View.

At some level I feel like it's a futile struggle--and it's not worth the fight.

Beck said...

Where is the lawsuit of the hetero couple that wants to get married in the temple, but they don't meet the criteria of holding a temple recommend? How come that hasn't happened?

What is happening at all of the Canadian temples with the gay marriages?

Am I missing something here? I still don't see how the Church loses its right to practice religious ordinances (or free speech) as they see fit.

I am troubled by how apostles are being used so forcefully. It is scary to me and I'm confused and concerned that I'm missing something and falling outside this "obvious" clear-cut line in the sand.

Scot said...

Thank you for the info Abe. I'm out of words on this one though. It's just sad.

Carter Niven said...

You might find the following link interesting as it addresses some of the issues brought up in your post (this may be a direct response to the said email).

Mel said...

Wow, that first letter had a lot of lies in it.

The original sender may not have known they were lies (in which case, he's the type to endorse anything he agrees with, without a concern about it's truthfulness), or he may at least suspect they are lies, but again, doesn't care. I'm not sure which is worse.

As an active member, I went to the Wednesday meeting. At first I almost laughed at the ham-handed way they were addressing the issues. Then I was just aghast at the out-and-out lies they included. I was amazed at the video of an ignorant girl who blathered on about how she was confused that judges could overrule the majority vote. Apparently, she has no clue was a supreme court justice does!

Ignorant people are easily manipulated, and the church is manipulating them. I can't believe that FORMER LAWYERS like Elder Cook would think this is okay. But then, he already helped steal millions of dollars from California for his former company. I suppose this is more of the same.

You know, I remember when I thought the church was all about Jesus and Truth?

[kɹeɪ̯ɡ̊] said...

The members may not know that it is a pack of lies, but the church leaders certainly do. And that's disgusting.

I donated today to No on Prop 8 in honour of Thomas Monson. It seemed appropriate.

A.J. said...

Can we talk about this without bashing the LDS church. The prop 8 thing is hurtful to me too. It hurts that the church I grew up in and love is actively hurting gay famalies. I don't want to loose my testimony over prop 8. I don't like hearing that the leaders of the church are liars. I think we can disagree without the church on this without attacking it.

Abelard Enigma said...

Up until yesterday, I was able to blame the misleading information being spread around the church regarding proposition 8 on the misguided efforts of over-zealous members. Although I disapprove of the church encouraging the saints in California to donate of their time and means to support prop 8, I did not see the church as being actively involved (relying only on the efforts of the membership).

Watching that video and seeing an apostle of the Lord espouse misleading facts and fear mongering is truly distressing; and, I don't know what to think anymore.

I don't want this to be the straw that causes me to lose my testimony any more than you do - but I also don't want to close my eyes and cover my ears singing la-la-la. If my testimony is so fragile as to let something like this break it - then do I really even have a testimony at all? Or have I been gliding along on blind faith?

mel said...

I didn't want to bash the church, specifically, but I definitely wanted to bash some of the leaders involved with that Wednesday night meeting.
If, hypothetically, I was being publicly dishonest about the church, they wouldn't hesitate to proclaim my dishonesty. I feel they should be held to the same standard.
The problem is, their lies doesn't tell me how important Proposition 8 is to them, but it does tell me that they are willing to lie about stuff.

Alan said...

Connecticut's Supreme Court has just ruled, 4-3, that gay couples have the right to marry in that state. I wonder what response we will see from the Church if/when the issue comes up before the Connecticut legislature or electorate.

A.J. said...

Anyone know what other states have court cases pending in favor of same sex marriage? I wonder if more states will legalize same sex marriage. I know 26 states have ammendments banning same sex marriage. I think the church is fighting a losing battle in the long run.

Abelard Enigma said...

Anyone know what other states have court cases pending in favor of same sex marriage?

The situation in Connecticut caught a lot of people by surprise. I guess there is so much focus on California right now (from both sides) that Connecticut wasn't even on the radar for many.

I wonder what response we will see from the Church if/when the issue comes up before the Connecticut legislature or electorate.

The governor of Connecticut has stated "I do not believe their voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut. However, I am also firmly convinced that attempts to reverse this decision — either legislatively or by amending the state Constitution — will not meet with success."

I think the church is fighting a losing battle in the long run.

The LDS church is definitely fighting a losing battle here - and, I think they know it! Up until a couple of months ago the church was also firmly opposed to civil unions - in fact, they were opposed to anything that granted legal rights to same sex couples. That position was reversed with The Divine Institution of Marriage press release which considerably softened their stance to more of a 'do whatever you want - just don't call it marriage'.

Reading between the lines, I think the church was expecting the membership to just lock step in their opposition and was caught off guard when met with some opposition by faithful members - particularly among the younger set. That's what prompted the press release, the recent meetings with young adults throughout California and on the BYU campuses, and the letter sent to all bishops warning us about Dale Callahan.

Abelard Enigma said...

I also think the decision of the LDS church to get involved politically will have long term consequences. Right now the support from the LDS church is welcomed by other churches - but it's more in the spirit of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." However, the ability of the LDS church to mobilize its members to influence a political election will NOT go unnoticed - wasn't that one of the factors that led to the persecution and subsequent expulsion from Nauvoo?

Alan said...

And Missouri. I think most LDS members today tend to forget that.

Scott said...

... they were opposed to anything that granted legal rights to same sex couples. That position was reversed with "The Divine Institution of Marriage" press release...

I'm not so sure the official position has been reversed.

"The Divine Institution of Marriage" specifically states that:

The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights...

That is, it lists specific rights which the Church "does not object to" (a list that falls short of all of the benefits that the government grants to married couples). It also qualifies the statement with the parenthetical "already established in California". It would be a losing battle to attempt to eliminate domestic partnership rights in California, and the Church knows this. But the stated lack of opposition is worded such that the Church can continue to oppose domestic partnership rights in other states without contradiction.

I believe that the Church still feels that male-female married couples deserve rights and benefits above and beyond what any domestic partnership or civil union should get. A few paragraphs later in "Divine Institution" we read:

married couples in almost every culture have been granted special benefits aimed primarily at sustaining their relationship and promoting the environment in which children are reared. A husband and a wife do not receive these benefits to elevate them above any other two people who may share a residence or social tie, but rather in order to preserve, protect, and defend the all-important institutions of marriage and family.

I don't know specifically which "benefits" are for mixed-gender marriages only, but I think it's clear that while "Divine Institution" may backstep a little bit, it's not a reversal.

Amanda said...

"married couples in almost every culture have been granted special benefits aimed primarily at sustaining their relationship and promoting the environment in which children are reared"

I took that quote from the comment above, and apparently that's from a new church release I wasn't aware of. I suppose maybe it's out of context, but it seems to me that if benefits are given to couples raising children, then gay and lesbian couples raising children should be afforded the same "special benefits."

For example, I knew a lesbian couple when I lived in Wisconsin a few years back. They'd been together for a long time, and had even legally changed their last names to be a combination of their former last names, to show they were committed to each other even if they couldn't marry. They wanted children, so one of the women went through invitro and birthed a baby. A few years later, the other woman did the same. They have two daughters, actually birthed from their bodies. Now maybe these children didn't come from both parents, but I won't get into trying to define THOSE semantics (stepchildren, children as products of rape, single parent widow(er)s who remarry, etc). Point is, those children have parents, and at least one is biological, and the parents live in a committed longterm relationship. It seems to me that they would be equally eligible for support and benefits if we're going to base that solely on raising children.

It's so frustrating when lies like you posted about are spread around. Those are even worse than the normal "six consequences" propoganda I normally see.