History recalls 1838 as the year of the Mormon War in Missouri. Will 2008 be the year of the Mormon War in California?
To gain some added insight into the mess in California right now, I called a person I really respect and admire who also happens to be gay and a former Mormon. I trust and value his opinion on many matters, though we differ strongly on matters of faith. He’s an independent thinker who doesn’t simply accept what any community or group says, but nevertheless is fairly conservative politically and is remarkably tolerant and sometimes even supportive of Latter-day Saints, in spite of having left the Church.
His thoughts surprised me. “I’m very upset with the Mormons. The Church is waging war in California.” War? That caught me off guard. He felt that the Church – I guess that’s “we” – have stepped over the line in pushing for the Proposition. He felt we have put our tax-exempt status at risk.
He explained that he does not believe in marriage – but feels that if people want to be married, let them. He doesn’t care too much about the issues of Prop. 8 per se, but is upset at the Church playing such a significant role. And the word he choose to describe the situation was “war.” While I disagree with his interpretation of the actions and aims of the Church, I respect the pain and agitation he feels. It gave me pause.
In the 1838 War, there was blame on both sides, and both sides could say the other side started it (though religious bigotry and hate against the Mormons clearly played a critical role). As the minority in the State, of course, the Mormons lost and were driven out of Missouri, with an insane extermination order nipping at their heels. War in California? Some speak of a culture war being waged across the United States. Will this be the first of additional battles where the Mormons take incredible heat for their stand on moral issues? Will there be dramatic consequences, far more dramatic than a few buildings vandalized? Stay tuned. Even when the judges in California contrive a way to strike down Proposition 8, it may not bring “peace in our time.”
Of course, the Prop. 8 case is hardly analogous to the 1838 War. For one thing, I don’t expect Mormons to be forcibly driven out of California or anyplace else in the US. Conflict with the Federal government could one day be much more worrisome. Our stance on moral issues today may end up being more like a repeat of the 1870s, where the Church’s former pro-polygamy position (so shocking to the serial adulterers in Congress of that era) was used as justification to disenfranchise it and seize its assets. Our position and efforts to preserve the sanctity of marriage in this day puts us at odds with some important social currents (same-sex marriage, abortion, pre-marital sex and cohabitation, gender roles, etc.). Though many share our views on these matters, our proactive and well-organized efforts, coupled with our “oddball” minority status, make us an ideal target for blame. Marching against Hispanics, blacks, Catholics, Baptists, and even the American Plumbers Union won’t play well, but there’s little risk in going after the Mormons.
While this whole thing may blow over, at least this time, it is possible that we will face increasing trouble in the future – not so much from angry mobs as from Federal agents from the IRS or maybe even the Justice Department using RICO statutes or other tools. If so, the consequences could be serious if good people of other faiths don’t stand up for us. Will there be pressure for a Third Manifesto that addresses same-sex marriage? Will the only safe route be to exercise our First Amendment right to simply shut up on social and moral issues? May our religious freedom be preserved here and in other lands where, sadly, it is increasingly at risk.
Personally, I believe that the Church and its members have every right to take stands on moral issues and when they are the subject of legal action or proposed legal changes, to exert influence. Our opponents have the same right. If they had won in California, Latter-day Saints would not be holding angry protect marches gay rights organizations or holding angry protect marches in front of churches on the other side. Those who demand tolerance should also afford it to those who disagree. That said, I think we need to understand how painful this issue is for some of our brothers and sisters, and how personally this affects them. These are very difficult times.
36 thoughts on “The 2008 Mormon War in California?”
The problem I see with Prop 8 is that the church may have won the battle but they are losing the war. The younger generation seems to be more strongly against the church than the older generation. This is bad for the future. I, however, don’t have prophetic foresight. All I can say is that I hope it was worth the cost.
I think even if we sat out this battle, the war would’ve raged on. Same-sex attraction issues are going to hound us from now on. But, this time there will be no 1978.
I find it ironic that any ideological leftists can speak in Churches, ala Farakhan, Sharpton, Jackson, Wright… and on and on and on… and noone ever even thinks to pull their non-profit status. Many black churches preached Obama right from the pulpit.
But a Church whose members speak out on an ideological right issue get threatened within minutes.
My understanding of end-times issues is that those of us who stand firm may well lose our very lives for standing up for Christ. They will kill us thinking they do God a favor. They will think right is wrong and wrong is right. A spirit of delusion will be over the great majority of people.
True faith isn’t for the faint of heart. We will be tested, like many in days of old, before the 2nd coming of the Lord.
Now is no time for true believers to question or abandon the living Prophet who is here to lead us and guide us in these latter days.
It is not a popularity contest and never was. Gird up your loins faithful ones. It could get very ugly.
The Mormon church will not risk their tax exempt status for speaking out against a specific proposition. That is very clear. The only possible way that tax exempt status could be challenged — in CA only– is if the IRS determines that–and I quote:
In general, no organization, including a church, may qualify for IRC section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). An IRC section 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.
The determination, and I am NOT a tax lawyer seems to hinge on the distiction between the California Mormons and the rest. If California is deemed a separate taxable entity, and a “substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation” then it is quite possible that the Mormon church has problems, but not because of any actions taken by anyone but the Mormon church itself.
“Our stance on moral issues today may end up being more like a repeat of the 1870s…”
More like the 1970s. The Church’s stance on gay marriage — or at least a lot of people’s perception of that stance — is a lot like its stance on blacks and the priesthood.
“Our opponents have the same right. If they had won in California, Latter-day Saints would not be holding angry protect marches gay rights organizations or holding angry protect marches in front of churches on the other side.”
What would Latter-day Saints have had to be angry about? What would we have lost? We would still be able to get married. The stakes in this election were immeasurably higher for gay people. Surely you can see that, Jeff.
I think that the experience of Prop. 8 clearly told both members of the church and the country (or even world) exactly where the Mormon Church stands in regards to marriage. We have taken our stand, and I don’t think that we’re going to back down on it.
Now it becomes the responsibility of other people (members or not) to decide where they will stand.
As for a revelation allowing same-sex marriage, I can find no reason to assume it will ever happen. Polygamy had a Biblical precedence; denying groups of people the fullness of the gospel (for a time) did as well.
But there is no room for the exaltation of homosexual couples in Heavenly Father’s eternal plan. The Proclamation on the Family makes that very plain. Thus, it would actually be detrimental to people engaging in homosexual behavior to think they could have full temple blessings when it is forbidden. I think allowing such things would be considered mocking God, and I trust the prophets too much to think that they would do such a thing.
kuri, this is nothing like the 1970s. I don’t see why the opponents of this keep bringing the issue of race into this because they are in no way related.
Blacks could not hold the priesthood for an unknown reason. It had nothing to do with immorality. There was never any official reason given despite the popular theories still believed by some today. Even ideas expressed by high-ranking leaders of the church were nothing more than personal opinion and were never given as official doctrine.
Contrarily this moral issue is something that there is official doctrine on. The Family: A Proclamation to the World clearly defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. We do not know all the impacts that same-sex marriage will have on society, but we do know what the Lord has spoken, he has spoken, and he will not excuse himself.
You insist that the stakes for gays were greater, and I ask what stakes are greater than that of your own soul? If you think you can blatantly disobey the counsel of the prophet, that you are more knowledgeable than he, if you think the Lord is on the wrong side of the issue, if you can believe all these things and think your very soul is not on the line,
then you are mistaken.
To those who feel an apology is owed for the passing of Prop 8, to those who still fight and denounce the church’s stance, I have one piece of advice: repent. Truly Satan desires to sift you as wheat.
All is not well in Zion, I am afraid.
I haven’t commented on Jeff’s blog before, but I have enjoyed reading many of his observations and the dialog of many differing points of view. I’ve learned a lot and feel like my horizons of understanding have been broadened as I’ve thought about many of the topics.
I live in northern california, just down the street from one of the chapels that was defaced. Last Sunday morning at church at an early morning leadership meeting our stake president stepped into the room to tell us there had been a few incidents that morning at other chapels and we needed to be prepared and familiar with how to respond to any violence that may occur.
As we discussed what we needed to do it was a very surreal experience. The thought that kept coming to my mind was Peter’s response when he was asked to describe Christ. He simply said ‘… He went about doing good…’
With the world moving further and further from this notion of focusing on doing good, purporting an absence of truth, and good, and right – while promoting selfishness, self pleasure, and a voracious pursuit of things; I’m certain any stance for truth and righteousness will draw the wrath of a society that has shunned such things.
Knowing all of this- my purpose is clear. It is the same as it has always been. To follow the one whose life was spent doing good.
Small acts of selflessness, kindness, and charity are what will see us through all of this. An example that will be undeniable.
Fight the good fight my friends! May the Lord bless us in that effort.
“You insist that the stakes for gays were greater, and I ask what stakes are greater than that of your own soul?”
You’re missing the point. With the passage of Prop 8, gay people lost the right to marry. If Prop 8 failed, Latter-day Saints would have lost nothing. Get it? Gays lose marriage vs. LDS lose nothing. The stakes were immensely higher for gays. Obviously the anger over the loss is immensely higher as well.
Since Jeff, at least, appears interested in understanding where gay rage towards the Church is coming from, and since he, at least, appears capable of empathy for people with whom he disagrees, I ventured an explanation. That’s all I’m talking about. I’m not interested in discussing the state of my soul with anonymous strangers on the internet.
I believe we would’ve lost something, and I think if you can’t see that, then maybe you don’t really understand the sacred nature of marriage. Something we hold so sacred would’ve become even further eroded. And what’s worse, “the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
If you take the word of the prophets, we have a lot to lose–a whole lot more than homosexuals. Homosexuals can get married. They can even have virtually the identical privileges of married couples. It just won’t be recognized as marriage by the State. It won’t get the public’s stamp of approval. But if a homosexual couple’s love is strong enough, and they are secure enough in their sexual identity, it shouldn’t matter what society thinks.
Unless the homosexual agenda goes much deeper and is much more sinister than simple public approval (and I suspect it is for some), then they really have lost very little.
No worries though. They will eventually get their way. It may take judicial fiat and the shredding of the Constitution to get it done, but it will happen. At least we can say we fought the good fight by standing up for our convictions.
“Lose nothing” was an overstatement. LDS would indeed have suffered a loss. But that loss would have been a vague, theoretical, indirect loss based mainly on hypothetical future events, many of which are either already happening or would eventually happen anyway. Gay people lost something real that affects them directly. That’s why they are far angrier and far more hurt than LDS would have been if Prop 8 had lost. Is that so hard to understand?
For you to say that what we would lose is a “vague, theoretical, indirect loss based mainly on hypothetical future events, many of which are either already happening or would eventually happen anyway,” is to not understand how deep our feelings and beliefs are on this issue. It is to say that our feelings are less important than those of the homosexual communities feelings, because theirs are more “real”. Such a loss would be very “real” to us. You seem to view this as an unemotional issue on our side of things. This strikes at the heart of all we hold dear. I do understand the loss on the other side, and I am sorry for the hurt, but I have to take a side, and I have to side with what I know is right.
Well, you’re right, I don’t understand your feelings. I don’t think I can, to be frank. I am honestly sorry to discount what you’re saying, but I just don’t think I can understand how the pain of someone who fails to prevent strangers from getting married could be as great as the pain of a person who is prevented from marrying the person he or she loves.
“many of which are either already happening or would eventually happen anyway.”
With that same reasoning we might as well nuke the population of the Earth because the second coming is going to happen and a great majority are going to die anyways!
Civil Unions Kuri. All the sames rights.
Off topic comment, but Kuri, it’s nice to have you back! We’ve disagreed before, but I recall being appreciative of the thoughts you expressed in a civil manner.
For my curiosity, how do you feel about states where there has never been a hope for legally recognized SSM? I assume it is seen as an inherent right that has yet to be recognized and expressed, in contrast to California, where there is a sense of something being taken away that appeared to be there, however briefly – or do I misunderstand that?
It’s worth noting that nobody with a shred of credibility has suggested that the Church would lose its tax-exempt status over this. (Although people have said they think the Church should, they haven’t looked at the tax law or thought through the consequences.) djinn is right on that.
Moreover, I can’t imagine a way in which the IRS would split off the Church in California unless the Church has structured itself into separate tax-exempt entities in separate states, which I doubt. Moreover, even if the Church in California were to be deemed separate, I would be shocked to find that a “substantial part of its activities” was devoted to influencing legislation. Even if all the Church did during the, what, 3 months leading up to the election in which it was politically involved was talk about and advocate legislation (and clearly that’s not all the Church did in California), that would constitute about a quarter of the Church’s California activities for the year. Not my definition of “substantial.”
For what it’s worth.
Mormons are not being targeted for their religious beliefs. They are being targeted for funding a campaign full of lies in order to remove the rights of gay people to marry in California. As Mormons, you should know how it feels to get pushed around for having once been what society considers “sexual deviants”. How would you feel if a slim majority of voters removed your right to do whatever it is you do in your secret temple ceremonies? Would you merely say, “ok, well, the people have spoken, so that’s that.” Nope. You’d either move somewhere else, file lawsuits, or you’d protest…sound familiar?
And if the Ca Supreme Court overrules Prop 8 (which is unlikely), I predict that you and your church will start whining about “activist judges” who are “redefining marriage” and “subverting the will of the people.” Well, I am glad that the courts have been able to redefine marriage in the past against the will of the people, otherwise your Church’s history of racism (in addition to the racist majorities of people in a number of states at the time) might have prevented me from being born. Nope, I am not white and delightsome. I am a mutt.
I think it is somewhat amusing that a church whose members have to accept the principle of polygamy and who would be obliged to practice it again if the “prophet” received a revelation (which could happen any moment…I mean, who knows when Heavenly Father might change his mind again about what you are supposed to believe?)re-institutung polygamy is trying so hard to pass laws defining marriage as the union between ONE man and ONE woman. You folks might be shooting yourselves in your collective foot!
Here’s some advice: When your church and its members are THE driving force responsible for the persecution of a specific group, that group will probably fight back. And while you Mormons are receiving the brunt of the anger from the gay community, the Catholic church has been protested as have some evangelical churches. It appears that the protests are taking place at various churches in proportion to the amount of money and effort said churches and their members put into removing the right of gays and lesbians to marry in CA.
So quit complaining. You targeted a specific group of people in one particular state and removed one of their rights. Without the out of state mormon money that you were “encouraged” to donate to spread lies, they would not have lost that right. You asked for it, just as surely as if you had walked up to someone and mugged them. If, in the process of trying to mug someone, that person punches you in the face, do you really expect your victim to feel moved if your jaw was broken in the process?
Civil unions are better than nothing, but obviously both sides think they’re not as good as marriage.
Thanks for the kind words. As for your question, IANAL, but I think that accurately reflects a widespread view on the pro-SSM side (on the grounds of “equal protection” rather than a “right to marry” per se).
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The depth of your ignorance is astounding.
"If you take the word of the prophets, we have a lot to lose–a whole lot more than homosexuals. Homosexuals can get married. They can even have virtually the identical privileges of married couples. It just won't be recognized as marriage by the State. It won't get the public's stamp of approval. But if a homosexual couple's love is strong enough, and they are secure enough in their sexual identity, it shouldn't matter what society thinks."
Actually, nowhere in this country can gay couples receive "virtually the identical privileges of married couples", not even in MA and CT where gay marriage is legal. There are over 1,000 rights afforded to hetero couples under federal law that gay couples do not receive. So you are wrong about that. In fact (and you can check the various state laws if you don't believe me) gay people (and those heterosexuals perceived as "acting" gay, whatever that means) can still be fired from their jobs, get evicted from their apartments, denied public welfare benefits….(I could go on and on) merely because they are gay. And they have NO LEGAL RECOURSE.
So, read a book before you pontificate on a subject you no nothing about. And gays don't WANT the public's seal of approval. I could care less what you and your church think about me, nor do I care whether or not you approve of the love I share with my partner of 8 years (to whom I REMAIN legally married in CA, for now at least, and the moment the CA Supreme Court decides Prop 8 is valid, we'll be off to CT). However, I do care about whether or not my spouse and I receive those same >1000 responsibilities and rights that hetero couples get. I also care about having legal protection from losing my job, being denied a loan, getting evicted from my home etc, which IS PERFECTLY LEGAL FOR SOMEONE TO DO TO ME in 90& of this country if they suspect I am gay.
Canada, most of Western Europe, and South Africa have all legalized gay marriage. I have yet to hear of any public gay orgies taking place in front of elementary school, nor have the citizens of said countries been plagued by locusts and boils. They are doing just fine.
As long as you support efforts to take away my rights (and spread lies about supposed rights that I in fact do NOT have), I will fight back. As long as your church singles out our community to take away the removal of the few rights we do have, you and your church are fair game.
And we will win. So why don't you just hie yourself to Kolob and leave the rest of us alone?
Wow Jeff, you sure are afraid of dissent, aren’t you? Afraid that your readers might encounter the truth? Well, you keep on deleting those comments with which you disagree without using profanity or saying anything untrue about your church.
It makes me happy to see that you are so afraid to hear the truth. The only people who suppress truth are those who have something to hide. If you have a conscience, then you must be feeling pretty awful these days.
What are you guys going to do if the prophet gets a new revelation that re-institutes polygamy (which could happen) after you spent so much time and effort defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman?
What, exactly, are all the campaign lies that were spread here? I’m not exactly on the same continent as CA so I missed all the campaigning.
I have been following this blog, though, and AFAICT nobody on either side seems to have come up with a specific actual lie, even though the accusation pops up regularly. I mean, come on! Even if the opposition didn’t feel it was worth their time to document them all (yeah, right), you’d think at least *one* brainwashed junior home teaching companion from the Terra-cotta third ward would have blindly (obediently) recited a couple of them…
While I agree that many, maybe even the vast majority, of SSM proponents really do just want to be officially married, there’s been some pretty compelling evidence that legislating SSM opens some pretty ugly cans of worms: chilling of free speech, squashed religious freedom, and adoptions that are *not* good for the kids. Any two of those three is more than enough for me.
Oh, and there *is* an agenda to push for all this. Been in print for about 20 years, it seems: http://beetlebabee.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/after-the-ball/.
Scary how successful the plan has been, eh? The only mistake was letting the judges strike prop 22 before the propaganda campaign had saturated the populace. Prop 22 passed about 8 years ago by something like 30% margin… prop 8 passed by 4%. If prop 8 had come two years later I suspect it would have lost by 4% or more.
How would you feel if a slim majority of voters removed your right to do whatever it is you do in your secret temple ceremonies?
Except that that isn’t the “right” that gay couples lost with the passage of Prop 8. Not by a long shot.
The arguments about the differences in rights enjoyed by married couples versus domestic partnerships hold no water. Those rights are almost entirely federal rights. Regardless of what the state calls the union, DOMA forbids the federal government from calling it “marriage” or extending the rights/privileges reserved for that institution. Prop 8 changed nothing.
“While I agree that many, maybe even the vast majority, of SSM proponents really do just want to be officially married, there’s been some pretty compelling evidence that legislating SSM opens some pretty ugly cans of worms: chilling of free speech, squashed religious freedom, and adoptions that are *not* good for the kids.”
Well, none of those three are true, for a start. America has extremely strong Constitutional free speech and religious freedom protections. The occasional horror stories that have cropped up elsewhere are simply not possible in this country. And adoption by gay parents is far more widespread both in the US and in other countries than gay marriage, nor is there any strong evidence that adoption by gay parents is harmful.
“Oh, and there *is* an agenda to push for all this. Been in print for about 20 years, it seems: http://beetlebabee.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/after-the-ball/.
Scary how successful the plan has been, eh?”
Their agenda is to convince people to treat them like everyone else. Why is that “scary” to you?
To Anon @4:41:
The only comment I recall deleting here was one I created errantly (that’s the one removed by administrator). There was one more I deleted in the past few days, but I don’t think it was here. I do delete profanity most of the time, and I will delete ads, completely off-topic posts, and YouTube videos in most cases because I don’t want to take the time to preview things that may be junk. But if you think I’m afraid of dissent, you haven’t read my blog. It’s through different opinions that we grow – but I expect civil behavior on both sides. Please note that your dissenting comment has somehow survived, by the way.
Say, why hide behind “Anon”? Give yourself a moniker at least so we can know who you are.
I also prefer that comments not give direct links to genuine anti-Mormon sites because I have no interest in increasing their visibility on the Web. My blog here is absolutely biased toward the Church, make no mistake, and I’m not interested in increasing traffic to sites that are dedicated to tearing down the Church, so if you link to “lets-drive-out-the-Mormons-and-sack-their-temples.com”, you might get deleted. But even then, I make occasional exceptions. (And I’m not just talking about MormonCult.org.)
How kind of you to call me ignorant.
Homosexuals who enter into civil unions in certain states have virtually the same rights as married couples WHICH THE STATE CAN AFFORD THEM. Sorry to have not been precise enough. I understand that they don’t have the same benefits under federal law, but I believe that the laws regarding civil unions cover the most basic and important benefits afforded to married couples. I don’t agree that granting SSM in states in order to force the federal government to recognize them is the correct approach.
The fact that homosexuals can get fired, get evicted from their apartments, or are refused a loan because they are gay are not issues which surround the marriage issue. It is a matter of discrimination, and I don’t agree with such discrimination.
And yes, SSM has been legalized in other countries, and perhaps there are no atrocious things going on in front of schools, and maybe no plagues directly attributed to SSM, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some serious infringements on religious freedoms going on in those countries. That doesn’t mean that the family unit isn’t suffering as a result of SSM.
I agree. It’s about more than just letting them have their way, they already have all the legal rights in California, they already have the state’s blessing. All they don’t have is the word “marriage” and the religious moral endorsement that it implies.
What they really don’t like is the idea that some people have deeply held personal beliefs that same sex marriage is wrong.
What has happened SINCE it passed is just unconscionable…some people just don’t like being told no. There is a big idea out there that gays are entitled to what they want, whether we like it or not, whether we vote on it or not, whether we live in a democracy or not.
We totally respect the Mormon’s church beliefs, and their right to choose to do what they want in their church. And we respect their efforts to encourage fundraising and legislation around issues that are important to them – that’s the AMERICAN WAY – debate, discussion, and finding our way to what works best for all society.
Have you seen these videos? http://www.youtube.com/refusetohate
As the father of a Gay child, I can only say that I now hate the Mormon Church. Your contributions to the Prop 8 campaign have reduced my daughter to a second-class citizen, and there can be no forgiveness or compromise.
From this point forward, I will no longer do business with Mormons, and will encourage others to boycott Mormon businesses.
To me, the Mormon Church is a Hate Church, and will be treated as such. Individual Mormons will be treated with the same contempt I reserve for Nazis and Klansmen.
“To me, the Mormon Church is a Hate Church, and will be treated as such. Individual Mormons will be treated with the same contempt I reserve for Nazis and Klansmen.”
Sounds like someone has some “hate” issues of their own to deal with?
I guess its only the LDS Church that you despise? Not any other churches or groups that had anything to do with Prop 8 passing? Nazis and Klansmen I believe also physically abused and even killed people. Is that what LDS folk are doing to the gays? Or are we just standing up for what we believe?
From this point forward, I will no longer do business with Mormons, and will encourage others to boycott Mormon businesses.
How are you going to do that? Will you question all potential clients on their religion? And when you walk into an establishment will you inquire about the proprietor’s faith?
Also, are you planning to boycott all the Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Protestants, atheists and agnostics who voted for Proposition 8? How will you identify them? Just a little questionnaire before you start doing business with anyone?
“Yes, waiter, I’m about ready to order, but first I need a list of everyone who owns or works in this restaurant and a note on how each of them voted in the Prop 8 election.” Yes, that should do the trick.
Personally I really don’t see why the church should take a stand on Prop 8. If the Mormons do not support Gay marriage do not marry them within your church.
I’m tired of the elitest attitude that so many churches have–not all of us believe nor do we want to believe. Throughout history religion has contributed to the suppression of a people, by gender, sexual preference, ethinicity, etc and also wars
, ethnic cleansing, murder. Really and truly what is the real benefit?? As a woman I see more misogyny, demonization, and lack of equality of my gender in all religions than I see benefit.
Also FYI Mormons—there are too many people on the planet stop having such large families!