Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An Ugly Attack on Mormons

as a followup to this insane post, my good friend mark sent me this article from the la times. so you don't have to click to the link i am posting the article below. i've also included an anti-mormon prop 8 ad that is discussed in the article.
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i agree with marks statement to me, "even though i was against prop 8 and had my reservations about how the church handled it, this is an important angle that shouldn't be overlooked."
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i'm not trying to start another fight but just thought that this was something that ya'll might be interested in.
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An ugly attack on Mormons
by John Goldberg
December 2, 2008
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Did you catch the political ad in which two Jews ring the doorbell of a nice, working-class family? They barge in and rifle through the wife's purse and then the man's wallet for any cash. Cackling, they smash the daughter's piggy bank and pinch every penny. "We need it for the Wall Street bailout!" they exclaim.
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No? Maybe you saw the one with the two swarthy Muslims who knock on the door of a nice Jewish family and then blow themselves up?
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No? Well, then surely you saw the TV ad in which two smarmy Mormon missionaries knock on the door of an attractive lesbian couple. "Hi, we're from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!" says the blond one with a toothy smile. "We're here to take away your rights." The Mormon zealots yank the couple's wedding rings from their fingers and then tear up their marriage license.
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As the thugs leave, one says to the other, "That was too easy." His smirking comrade replies, "Yeah, what should we ban next?" The voice-over implores viewers: "Say no to a church taking over your government."
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Obviously, the first two ads are fictional because no one would dare run such anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim attacks.
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The third ad, however, was real. It was broadcast throughout California on election day as part of the effort to rally opposition to Proposition 8, the initiative that successfully repealed the right to same-sex marriage in the state.
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What was the reaction to the ad? Widespread condemnation? Scorn? Rebuke? Tepid criticism?
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Nope.
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This newspaper, a principled opponent of Proposition 8, ran an editorial saying that the "hard-hitting ad" was too little, too late.

The upshot seemed to be that if the pro-gay-marriage forces had just flooded the airwaves with more religious slander, things would have turned out better.
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At a pro-gay-marriage rally in Los Angeles after the vote, chants of "Mormon scum!" were reported. Envelopes containing white powder have been sent to Mormon temples in California and Utah; vandals hit other temples. Lists of businesses to boycott -- essentially Mormon blacklists -- have sprung up on the Internet. The artistic director of the California Musical Theatre resigned because of pressure after it was revealed he gave $1,000 to a pro-Proposition 8 group.
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It's amazing. Hollywood liberals, who shout "McCarthyism!" as a first resort, see nothing wrong with this. If Jews were attacked in this way for giving too much money to a political cause, Barbra Streisand would already have a French passport.
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Never mind that Proposition 8 carried nearly every demographic slice of voters. Put aside the fact that the Catholic Church and scores of other Christian churches supported it too. Discount the inconvenient truth that bans on gay marriage have now passed in 30 states. It's all the Mormons' fault.
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The argument is that Mormons used illegitimate power, in this case money, beyond their numerical standing in the population to secure victory for the measure. Golly, wealthy gay liberals would never do anything like that! I bet they're not giving a dime to the legal effort to overturn Proposition 8.
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No, it's just that Mormons are the most vulnerable of the culturally conservative religious denominations and therefore the easiest targets for an organized campaign against religious freedom of conscience.
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Traditional religion is the enemy anywhere it runs afoul of complete social acceptance of homosexuality. In New Mexico, a wedding photographer was fined nearly $7,000 for refusing to shoot a gay commitment ceremony. The dating site eHarmony, run by evangelicals, was just bullied by gay activists via the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights into starting up a site for gays. The first 10,000 registrants must get six months free.
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It's often lost on gay-rights groups that they and their allies are the aggressors in the culture war. Indeed, they admit to being the "forces of change" and the "agents of progress." They proudly want to rewrite tradition and overturn laws. But whenever they're challenged democratically and peaceably, they instantly complain of being victims of entrenched bigots, even as they adopt the very tactics they abhor.
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My own view is that gay marriage is likely inevitable, and won't be nearly the disaster many of my fellow conservatives fear it will be. But the scorched-earth campaign to victory pushed by gay-marriage advocates may well be disastrous, and "liberals" should be ashamed for countenancing it.
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jgoldberg@latimescolumnists.com
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in addition, this is the television ad that was discussed in the above article.
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11 comments:

Barb @ getupandplay said...

It's a well written letter. I can't believe the hypocrisy of standing up for one minority group by victimizing another. It really makes me sad.

Alison said...

Oh, My, My, My!!!

I just spent a good portion of my children's nap time reading the 64+ comments left in response to the Keith O (I can't spell his last name) entry! Wow, that was so interesting.

I have to say that I admire anyone who has the courage to share their political/religious views on their blog. I'm a wimp. I am too fearful of offending people. So cheers to you for creating a setting where mature (with the exception of one person!) people can discuss and respectfully agree to disagree. It's a loaded topic so I'll refrain from offering my two cents for fear that I'd never stop typing. Again, good for you.

In response to this particular ad, Wow. That was hurtful and unfair considering that their were other demographics responsible for the passing of prop 8.

Michelle T-C said...

I’ve come to the conclusion that many people on either side of the argument are less interested in progressing a cause than in being angry. Too often in political discussion the development of ideas takes a backseat to fan-like political enthusiasm. Pick a side and cheer your team. Boo the other. Pay no attention to what is actually effective or fair. either side of any given debate has a pep squad, and unfortunately they seldom miss an opportunity to don the jerseys face paint and crazy wigs.

I see the anger directed at the Mormon Church as a knee jerk reaction to a very public and humiliating rejection. Many homosexuals have been frustrated by more subtle rejection and mistreatment for years at the hands of religious friends and neighbors. Whether or not this rejection was inspired by religious involvement, I know I would find it easier to believe that my uncle doesn’t want to talk to me anymore because of his church tells him to than because he thinks of me differently as a person. The church’s very public involvement in the “Yes on Eight” campaign simply gave those with pent up resentment towards organized Christian religion a very obvious whipping boy. Does this excuse it? No. But I understand why it exists.

That said, I want to emphasize this reaction and attitude is NOT UNIVERSAL. When this particular ad first came out, T and I were both upset by it, but after doing a little research we realized we were not alone. Non-LDS Religious leaders who supported the “No on Eight” campaign spoke out against the ad, as well as many organizers in the homosexual community. Although several of my gay and lesbian friends and working associates have expressed frustration with the organization of the church for taking such a public stance on the issue, I have NEVER felt like they’ve directed that frustration on me or any other individual Latter Day Saint.

I work with a woman who has been very involved in the “No on Eight” campaign (she would like to stay married to her wife), and we often talk about the issue and the manner in which those involved conduct themselves. We agree that it is important to keep the discussion open and to maintain attitudes of understanding and compassion. Please remember that this ad does not represent the “No on Eight” campaign as a whole any more than the people standing on the corner waving signs condemning homosexuals to hell represent you.

allison said...

I have some things to say.

For the record, I am not religious, and I was adamantly against Proposition 8. I don't live in California, but I donated money and time in protesting the proposition.

On the one hand, I do not think that rallying against religion is the way to gain support for gay rights. There is a group, Impact, that is associated with the gay rights movement and plans on protesting the wedding of a major contributor to the anti-gay marriage movement in Florida. I do not think that this will help. Alienating those of religious faith is no way to convince people that your cause is worthy. I think blaming one group unequivocally is too reductionist. I also think that when dealing with people's religious beliefs, you must tread lightly.

On the other hand, the comparison to Jews and Muslims doesn't hold water in my book. These are stereotypes that are unaffiliated with the organized components of these religions. Yes, there have been some Muslim extremists, but was the author suggesting that some Jews are actually money-grubbing thieves? Seriously? Contrast this with the fact that, though the Yes on Prop 8 people in no way represent all Mormons, the official Mormon church donated $20 million dollars to the Yes on 8 campaign. From Utah. Why are they investing so much time and money in California's affairs?

There is a difference between official Church position and the actions of a few of its members. When a few members of a certain religion act badly, it is unfair to judge the entire church or religion. But when it is official Church doctrine, is it really unfair to look at its members and wonder, if you do not agree, why do you stay affiliated? I know it's hard to leave faith, but unless you are speaking out against your Church's official positions, you are complicit.

I don't want to offend anyone. I know not all Mormons were in support of Proposition 8, just as not all Catholics are against birth control. But American society knows less about "factions" within the LDS church. Unlike Protestantism, where we are aware of the differences between Episcopalians and Southern Baptists, we don't know whether there are liberal "types" of Mormons or not. Perhaps the more liberal Mormons could work on organizing a public relations campaign so people DO understand that they are not homogeneous in belief.

There is a lot of anger from members of the gay community, and rightfully so, though misdirected. If you look at some of the Yes on 8 commercials, they are equally offensive. It does not make either side right. But perhaps members of the Mormon church, if angry that they are being scapegoated, should also look at their church and wonder why it would involve itself so heavily in politics.

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allison

allison said...

I also really dislike the author's rhetoric.

"But whenever they're challenged democratically and peaceably, they instantly complain of being victims of entrenched bigots, even as they adopt the very tactics they abhor."

Would he say the same in the case of Loving v. Virginia? People in Virginia voted against interracial marriage successfully. Were civil rights activists being "uppity" and unfair when they took it to the Supreme court, where it was declared unconstitutional?

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allison

allison said...

Whew, sorry to post again and again. I realize you were against Proposition 8 and I commend you for that. I just wish the author of the newspaper piece wouldn't so snidely denigrate calling proponents of Prop 8 bigoted, especially given the way many (including an Anonymous commenter on the Keith Olbermann post here) talk about gay couples. The whole "What next, we can marry sheep?" argument is very sad and very, very bigoted.

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allison

Anonymous said...

Allison,
The "Offical Mormon Church" did not donate 20 million dollars. Members of the Mormon Church donated money. They were not commanded or in anyway forced to donate this money. It was their own choice. "Freedom to do" as I thought we were allowed as U.S citizens. I am a very active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and never heard anything asking me to give money for proposition 8.

allison said...

Anonymous,

I apologize if I am incorrect, but everything I have read said there was a significant call to action from the Mormon church in Utah for its members to donate and help with the passage of the Proposition.

"The Latter-day Saints Church says it has approximately 770,000 members in California, accounting for about 2% of the state's population. Senior church elders broadcast a call to Mormons October 8 for increased volunteer efforts and donations for the marriage fight. The hour-long message went out to churches in Utah, Hawaii, and Idaho as well as California.

Members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, the second-highest church governing body, explained their plan to pass the ballot initiative. They asked each California congregation to commit 30 volunteers to donate four hours a week to Proposition 8. They also urged young people to use technology -- such as social networks, text messaging, and blogging -- to spread the word. "

From http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid64163.asp (which is admittedly a biased source, but I have found this information elsewhere and can find it from more objective sources if necessary)

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allison

allison said...

From a source (http://en.fairmormon.org/Latter-day_Saints_and_California_Proposition_8) that is defending Mormons and calls the targeting of Mormons unfair (which I partially agree with, as there were many non-Mormons in support of this proposition, financially and otherwise):

Church members were not told how to vote on Proposition 8. As stated in the letter, members were asked to “do all you can to support” the passage of Proposition 8. There was no commandment for members to work on the campaign. Support was organized at a local level and volunteers' experiences varied according to area, need and campaign leaders. Members were asked to support Proposition 8 ("We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment..."), but not commanded.

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"Not telling people how to vote" but urging that members do all they can to make sure it is passed doesn't make much sense to me. That's like someone, a figurehead for any community, saying "Oh please please please, let's pray that Obama wins, let's do all we can to elect him. But I will not specifically tell you who to vote for!" Aren't they basically the same thing?

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allison

brycrasch said...

Ug anonymous get their hands on this post as well huh? I am glad they are policing the internet to keep your blog safe and politically correct A.

;)

Michelle T-C said...

To me this argument is not about the church's official position and the subsequent church members' involvement in the organization and funding of the yes on eight campaign. 45% of the Yes campaign was donated by members, many of whom gave their time and money because it’s what they thought that the church wanted them to do. That happened. I was here.

THAT SAID

I think anyone who looks at the discussion sparked by Andrea's Untitled blog entry or any of the MANY other online discussions I've been following authored by active members of the LDS church can see that regardless of the official position of the church MANY Mormons have been active in the no on eight campaign. I and many others Mormons I know have donated our voice and our money to the no on eight campaign.

Although a lot of people have made up their minds on one side or the other, there is a huge discussion going on right now within the church’s membership trying to determine how best to apply the core values of the church to the role government should play in our lives. This ongoing discussion is part of why I stay involved with an organization with an official stance contrary to my own. Is it a perfect organization? No, nothing is. Is there room for movement? Yes. Is movement happening? YES. In a recent release from the church leadership, it was mentioned that while the church officially does not support gay marriage, it is not opposed to civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. While this is not perfectly harmonious with my beliefs, it is progress. And based on what I’ve read in the months leading up to and weeks following the passage of prop eight I believe this progress will continue within the membership of the church.

This is why ads and attitudes like those criticized in this blog are so dangerous. In choosing to attack and criticize the ad succeeds in mobilizing an already angry left wing by supporting stereotypes of attitudes within the church. It also succeeds in alienating and hurting many church members who were against prop eight, or even more importantly have not made up their mind yet.