24 October 2008

Politics Makes Strange . . . what was it?

I have been very careful not to say publicly which way I would vote on California's Proposition 8. I have not hesitated to speak on abusive and misguided tactics by either side.

The theft and defacement of Yes on Prop 8 signs by its opponents, the screaming and name-calling, the personal attacks, are all disgusting and, in the opinion of reasonable fair minds, suggest that some opponents of Prop 8 are indeed unreasonable and intolerant.

The spread of misrepresentations and myths by Proposition 8 supporters to manipulate and misuse the faith and simple trust of many members of the various churches who support the proposition is just as objectionable.

Reasonable people on both sides of the issue should find such tactics reprehensible no matter where they originate.

That said, I want to give Latter-day Saint supporters of Proposition 8 a slightly different perspective than you may have had so far. I'm moved to do this by the recent words of Carol Lynn Pearson, who was spot-on in her views. Warning: there are some tough words ahead. This is not a soft & cuddly feel-good can't we all just get along post. But this is a tough issue.

Fellow Saints, in politics there are no permanent friends, only permanent interests. While the LDS Church has provided the vast bulk of the staggering war chest amassed to pay for pro-Prop 8 campaigning, don't forget that it is joined in this effort by many other conservative organizations, many of whom are otherwise actively hostile to the Church. At the risk of a little hyperbole, it's like the Sunnis and the Shi'ites joining in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet invaders--but the minute the foreigners are gone, the two camps will turn on each other again. Many of the evangelical fundamentalist conservative Christians now marching with the Mormons to support Prop 8 also actively support nationwide campaigns of bigotry and hate against the Latter-day Saints at all other times. (Side note: many of these people claim to do this "out of love" for those poor misguided Mormons, but you know how much love you actually feel when you read or hear their propaganda. Could Prop 8 opponents feel the same way about LDS claims of respect and tolerance for them?)

Fellow Saints, do you like bankrolling those who otherwise actively spread lies and prejudice against you (and others!), and who will surely continue doing so after this election's over? Do you recognize that you're shacked up for the moment with people who've compiled over a century of doing to you what they're trying to do to marriage rights in California as they now exist, and far worse? People who have called you many of the same extreme and hurtful things they call Proposition 8 opponents?

Here's what Carol Lynn Pearson said. "I am so grieved to see whom my church has chosen as friends in this campaign to pass Proposition 8. We have gotten into bed with some of the most extreme of the 'Religious Right,' some of whom are well known as hate mongers. We have been raped by organizations that hate the Mormons but love our money and our energy. Now we find ourselves pregnant with fear and even hate. The rhetoric we use, they have put in our mouths, words based more in fear than in fact."

I want it to be very clear that I am taking no position on Proposition 8 itself. I just want my fellow Saints who do support the proposition to be very clear about who they have chosen to affiliate with in their efforts. On November 5th, look around to see how much of the cooperation remains, and don't be surprised if, as a result of its position on Prop 8, the LDS Church hereafter finds itself permanently saddled in much of public perception with the same reputation that often dogs those other hate mongers you thought were your friends: intolerant, regressive, willing to spend millions to push discrimination into a constitution. You may disagree, but this is how countless people will view the Church if Proposition 8 passes. Many Mormons may say "that's the price of standing up for what's right." Fair enough. But don't be surprised if that is not the end of the fight, or if the baptism rates in the United States fall even further.


Robert said...

I totally agree, the fight has brought out the worst in either side. It's discouraging to see so much money spent on fighting and rhetoric and propoganda. Call me a hippie, but I think it'd have been more Christlike use that money to build wells in Africa or send medical supplies or whatever else that could change and save lives. Instead, we got "Yes on Prop 8." Discouraging.

I'm glad that I'm not voting in CA cause this way I don't have to solidify my position by putting it onto a ballot.

On a lighter note, the weather was nice today in UT...

October Rising said...

That definitely needed to be said.

A CROW'S VIEW said...

When the Tom Monson speaks as Tom Monson he will use stationary that says from the desk of Tom Monson. What he writes is his own opinion. When he acts as the Prophet and writes to members of the Church using stationary that says From the Office of the First Presidency, it isn't his opinion, its President Thomas S. Monson acting within his sacred duty as prophet, seer and revaltor. This was done in June to members of the church in California.

We can wait for further light and knowledge or we can act on what the prophet has said. We can act as the children of Israel and question everything that Moses said and we can stay wondering in the desert for 40 years or we can act on faith. I'm afired this isn't an issue thats going away. I do believe this is a sign of the last days.

A CROW'S VIEW said...

I was thinking more about your comments. It's not easy to follow the prophet and okay so what if baptism rates fall. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ not the next trending club to join. Yes we want to attract new converts but its not the numbers that save the church, its the church and the gospel that save the people.

Pearson distubs me. She knows how to clock a lot of what she says in sweet sounding verses and yes I know she's had personal heartache with this issue. But that's no excuse for some of the apostate causes she supports. And that isn't going to do her much good when she is held accountable for some of the souls that are lost because she has brought comfort to those who should be seeking repentances. I'm sorry I realize that sounds judgmental. I wish it wasn't so.

So what if groups who are anti Mormon are on our side on this one. Okay, so we share some common beliefs and can work together on some issues. Maybe we can soften some hearts, I don't know.

But honestly, thats not why we are working on this. We are working on this because the Prophet has asked us to. That's the only reason. One can justify being against it with a million and one reasons, but the bottom line is that the Prophet of God has issues a call.

If it costs baptisms, oh well. That's sad because in the eternal perspective the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that will save a person. I'm not going to stand down on something the Prophet has ask me to do to make the church more attractive or popular. Not if standing down on this issue means making something that is so wicked and immoral normal in society. In the end what is God going to think about my actions based on His commandments? That's why I choose to follow the Prophet.

Alan said...

Crow's Nest:

In the 1960's, a First Presidency letter stated that any use of birth control by Latter-day Saints was against the teachings of the Church. Joseph Fielding Smith called birth control “wicked.” Now that First Presidency letter's position has been completely reversed and this matter is left to the discretion of each married couple.

During Spencer Kimball's term, a First Presidency letter stated that oral sex between spouses was unnatural and sinful, and bishops were instructed to inquire specifically into this issue during temple recommend interviews. The resulting outcry from across the Church in response resulted in that letter's instructions being quietly shelved, bishops are now instructed not to ask such questions, and the Church's stance now is that such matters are left to the couple's discretion.

There are more like this, but the point is that First Presidency letters are no doctrinal. They are not canonized scripture, which many presidents of the Church have said is the exclusive guide by which we should judge all statements of Church leaders. And First Presidency letters can be and have been revoked and reversed. These are facts.

Now we have a First Presidency letter that says “We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment” in California. It did not announce this as official doctrine of the Church. You have said that “We are working on this because the Prophet has asked us to. That's the only reason.” Remember, in light of precedent, this letter is not officially binding doctrine. As I stated before on my blog, the Church's own chief legal counsel stated that “of course Church members are free to disagree with the First Presidency” on this issue.

Allow me to suggest, respectfully, that your statement about “the only reason” for supporting Proposition 8 is not in line with Church teachings. Pres. Brigham Young taught “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken the influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually." (JD 9:150) Presidents of the Church since then have reiterated this guidance.

To reiterate what I posted before: “President Thomas Monson is a man of wisdom and experience, and we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God; and when ‘Thus saith the Lord’, comes from him, the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill.” - Apostle Charles W. Penrose (Millennial Star 54:191). The question, of course is whether the First Presidency's request to support Proposition 8 in California rises to the level of “Thus saith the Lord” or whether it reflects “personal views or utterances.” Their letter is almost maddeningly void of any reference that would help make this determination. And even if it is the former, we then have the obligation to “investigate it” rather than “shutting our eyes and taking it down like a pill” as so many LDS seem intent on doing, if blogs and Web traffic are any indication.

I wish, Crow's Nest, that things were as black & white as you suggest. But in all good faith I can't see them that way. Nor do I believe the teachings of the Church support that approach. I do however fully support your right to see things differently and will not presume to question your faithfulness because of that. Thanks for your post.

Floyd said...

Thank you, Carol Lynn Pearson. She has been through so much pain and only fights more for those of us who may have caused her pain. She is a true saint.