Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Me thinks the LDS church doesn't "get it"

The LDS church issued a news release regarding the media buzz about the previously unreported $190,000 that was in the latest filing from the church: Church Clarifies Proposition 8 Filing, Corrects Erroneous News Reports

The whole explanation boils down to "we were supposed to file by January 31st, 2009, and we met the deadline - so what's the problem?"

First of all, there is a certain arrogance with the phrase "corrects erroneous news reports". Most of us are not versed in the finer details of campaign finance laws. We look at the information at hand and form opinions. The information available to us prior to yesterday is that the LDS church previously filed donations 'in kind' of approximately $2000 - then they submitted a final report detailing out approximately $190,000 of donations 'in kind'. Why wait until you've been blasted in the media before issuing a press release? Why not be a little more proactive and issue a news release simultaneously with the final filing? This is, obviously, a very sensitive topic. Were they truly naive enough to think that they were going to file this and nobody would notice the discrepancy? Did they sincerely believe that no explanation was needed?

It is also disingenuous to point out that their in-kind (non-monetary) contribution is less than one half of one percent of the total funds (approximately $40 million) raised for the “Yes on 8” campaign. The fact is that most of the $40M came from Mormon's. And, it's safe to assume, that most of those Mormon's would probably not have made a donation if the church hadn't ask them to "do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time" in conjunction with its fundamental principal of "follow the prophet". So, while the church did not make significant contributions, according to the legal definition - it is directly responsible for the majority of the contributions received by the YesOn8 campaign.

The LDS church feels that same sex marriage is morally wrong. They rallied their forces and were successful in passing proposition 8 defining marriage as only being between a man and a woman. They averted a potential catastrophe that was threatening the very foundation of family by redefining marriage. Families in California are now safe from all of those gay couples who wanted their own committed monogamous relationships to be recognized as such. So, why are they now hiding behind legal mumbo jumbo? Why not stand up and be proud of their accomplishment?

In the days following November 4th, Jan Shipps, president of the Mormon History Association (and, interestingly, a non-member), said in an interview: "I think they probably are really astonished that there are demonstrations at temples all over the nation"

I agree with her. I believe church leaders were truly surprised and caught off guard by the back lash following November 4th. I think they truly do not understand the anger the GLBT community has towards Mormon's right now. In their minds, they were simply 'standing up for what they believe' and cannot comprehend why others will not respect that. They don't seem to understand the difference between passively standing up for what you believe - and aggressively going on the offensive to ensure that others comply with what you believe.

They just do not "get it", nor will they even acknowledge that they don't "get it" - and that is what saddens me most.


Ezra said...

You mean people will get upset if you forcibly divorce them? Imagine that.

Rich said...

Just a quick correction to your post. The church worked to pass the initiative - Prop 8, not defeat it. The initiative was a consititutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and woman in the State of California, hence, the Church wanted it to pass.

Abelard Enigma said...

Dang it - I knew that. Thank you for pointing out my error. I've corrected the blog post.

Alan said...

I have no doubt that the Church institutionally and many members truly were astonished at the width and depth of the backlash against it and them after Prop 8's passage.

Anybody who grows up in an active Mormon family knows that Church membership and activity saturates everything in life. It's in the forefront of your mind constantly, relentlessly. When you spend your whole life in a cocoon like that, you can lose the ability to even comprehend some things from other peoples' points of view.

I think the Church and most of its members ended up believing their own wishful thinking and PR about becoming "mainstream" and "respected". So the one-two punch of Mitt Romney's campaign and the post-Prop 8 reaction was a whole ocean of cold water in the face, a brutal wake-up call that said No, we don't see you that way, and we aren't going to let you spend your own preferred social model into secular law that tells US how to live.

For anyone who's lived their whole life in the warm cocoon of cultural Mormonism, it can be brutal and disorienting to bump up against the real world sometimes.

Beck said...

They won't "get it" until one of two things happens:

1) The world changes and public pressure increases to accept gay marriage as totally and completely normal and anything to prevent such unions is bigotry and discrimination, such that they cave to the public pressures because it hurts the "public image" and the "mission of the church" to go forward into the world and affects the corporate bottom line, etc.

or 2) The membership undergoes a shift in belief from within and slowly change comes from within to the point that policy change occurs. This won't happen in a generation, or even two, but it will happen, just as with past prejudices.

Until then, there is no motivation to "get it". As long as "us" is bigger than "they" there will be no motivation to "get it".

Grant Haws said...

Sadly, even if the Church ever "gets it", it won't be a quick reversal like the blacks and the priesthood. Sure that had some back-pedaling and "new revelation" mumbo jumbo...but this issue has literally hit every member in some way and just a change in policy won't fix the problem. The whole gay thing has been made into an eternal no-no, rather than a "not at this time" issue.

But what kills me more though is that double-talk of saying that they support their homosexual members when they don't. Or when they say they were a small force, even if they weren't, and then the folks in Salt Lake are high-fiving, while complaining about being singled out. It is just so ridiculous.

John said...

Well the Mormon church is with the majority of Californians (and Americans) who "don't get it." So just because you get it, don't imagine that you are anything but in the minority with your opinions (and not just in the church)

But I agree with Beck that 1) will probably happen someday. That means the church and others will be in the minority and I doubt they will not show their displeasure as vehemently and inappropriately as some of the current minority.

Jenz said...


Abelard Enigma said...

I don't agree the LDS church has to change its policy and/or doctrine in order to "get it".

I can express sympathy and understanding if something I did hurt someone else. I can be sorry for hurting them without being sorry for doing the thing I did.

For example, like many others, we have cut back dramatically on our expenditures. I am sympathetic for the stores that are having to close because of reduce consumer spending. I am truly sorry for the people that are losing their jobs - but I'm not sorry that I've cut back on my spending.

However, instead of sympathy - we're getting defensive posturing

* We've complied with all legal requirements.

* Our financial contributions were minimal compared to the overall effort.

* It's not just us, other organizations were involved in helping to get prop 8 passed.

* Why is everybody mad at us? We haven't done anything wrong.

Beck said...

You're asking your leaders to be sympathetic, compassionate, charitable, willing to listen, understanding etc. while still being firm in their position. In other words, less corporate-like, less business-like and more Christ-like?

Yeah. Me too. That's why the double talk and backpeddling and wanting things both ways are so disturbing and regrettable.

I could almost accept or understand their position if they were to be constant and firm and upfront and resolute. Hiding behind lawyers and technicalities and double-speak just makes me feel sad and disappointed - and I don't want to feel sad and disappointed in Brethren I sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators, even if I know that they aren't perfect. I don't expect perfection. But I do feel like I don't need to get the "corporate" answer to these questions.

Grant Haws said...

Beck - you're right it really does feel corporate-like, with a spokesman explaing what the Church's position is. Which is the problem with anyone that is both gay and Mormon. You get the harsh doctrine, telling you why homosexuality is a sin, but you don't get any "love the sinner, not the sin", whether the person decides to have a gay relationship or not. Instead you get doubletalk and by some spokesperson.

John - From your comment, you must be blissfully unaware of the cruelty imposed by church members on people who are gay or those who support them. The church itself may not be doing it, but there is an atmosphere in the church culture where the gay-rights protests after November look like a friendly Saturday picnic in terms of being "vehement" and "inappropriate".