Thursday, October 16, 2008

Strange Bedfellows

Mormons and the Coalition to Protect Marriage
Robert A. Rees

On a recent trip to Utah, I read an article in the Salt Lake Tribune titled "Minister Insists Romney is a 'Cultist'" about the Reverend Robert Jeffress, pastor of an evangelical mega-church in Dallas. That made me to think about how closely tied Mormons are in the Proposition 8 campaign with groups and organizations that consider us non-Christian at best (and cultist and satanic at worst).

I don't know whether Latter-day Saints involved in the Yes on 8 campaign have bothered to investigate the organizations with which we are in league in this initiative, but my cursory examination reveals that the majority could be classified as fundamentalist, and not a few characterized as extreme right-wing. I believe it is safe to say that many are decidedly anti-Mormon.

The majority of churches listed on the website as "endorsers" are Evangelical, Pentecostal, or Catholic. Endorsing organizations include the Eagle Forum, Creation Research (anti-evolution), and Traditional Values Coalition (whose website is anti-Obama and anti-homosexual). In other words, we are associated in this campaign with individuals, groups, organizations and churches that tend to represent a right-wing ideology. Many if not most of the churches and religious groups with whom we are aligned tend to be biblical literalist, anti-feminists, dominionists (America should be governed by Christian principles and biblical law), exceptionalists (the United States is chosen above all other nations), and anti-homosexual.

Other groups affiliated with the Coalition tend to fall into the same category. For example the organization providing legal counsel to the Coalition, the Alliance Defense Fund, was founded by James Dobson (Focus on the Family), Bill Bright (Campus Crusade for Christ), Larry Burkett (Crown Financial Ministries) and D. James Kennedy (Coral Ridge Ministries). A review of their respective websitesreveals their ideological bent. Another organization, the Family Research Council, also formed by James Dobson and affiliated with Focus on the Family, is the producer of a video currenly being destributed by ("If Prop 8 Fails on November 4th, All Public School Children Will Be Affected"). The Family Research Council, headed by Tony Perkins, is a right-wing political lobbying organization. Still another video, "Homosexuals Brainwashing Our Children in Elementary Schools," produced by Mass Resistance, features on its website an article titled "The Mitt Romney Deception."

A DVD currently being distributed by the Coalition, "Proposition 8 and the Case for Traditional Marriage," is produced by the American Family Association, an anti-homosexual group. It is a slickly-produced, propagandistic video and yet is being distributed vigorously by Latter-day Saints. As the high councilman in one stake spearheading the Proposition 8 campaign wrote to members, "There is an excellent video presentation with Chuck Colsun [sic] (Pastor) on the American Family Association website that should be a must see for all of us." He then encouraged members to buy and distribute copies to their friends, have showings in their homes, etc. He adds, "This is a moral (and mortal) issue and we are in the fight of our lives. This video removes all doubt as to what's happening." One stake president's wife recently purchased a thousand copies of this DVD for members to distribute.
Even Catholics, with whom the Church has joined arms in this battle and with whom it in general has had amicable relations over the past several decades, are not always friendly. The Vatican has recently decreed that the Mormons will no longer be permitted to copy genealogical records of Catholic churches (which means that millions of Catholics worldwide will not be able to access the records of their ancestors on the LDS genealogical database). And, since 2001, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has refused to recognize Mormon baptism as a legitimate Christian baptism (an exception to its established principle of accepting non-Catholic Christian baptism for converts to Catholicism).
By using material that has originated from other sources and that relies on falsehoods, myths, and half-truths, Latter-day Saints in the Yes on 8 campaign are employing tactics similar to those used against the Church in the past (and that currently are being used by some of those with whom we are affiliated in this campaign). From the first days of the Restoration, Mormons have been victims of campaigns based on false, misleading, and manipulative media and inflammatory rhetoric designed to appeal to people's fears and insecurities. A review of anti-Mormon material discussed on such websites as and and videos shown on YouTube reveal that much of the anti-Mormon material is produced or influenced by churches and religious organizations with the same ideology as those supporting Proposition 8.

If there are sound reasons for supporting Proposition 8 then Latter-day Saints should put them forth and let them contend in the marketplace of democratic discourse. If we believe that the truth shall make us free, we should never resort to using falsehoods and deceptive arguments to promote our positions. If, as we claim, Proposition 8 is a moral issue, then we should use our highest moral principles in promoting it.

I personally hope that leaders responsible for coordinating the engagement of Latter-day Saints in this campaign will be candid and straightforward about the importance of California members not yielding to the temptation to accept any source of information about gay marriage or its supposed consequences, but to stick to information that comes directly from Church headquarters. As things now stand, it seems that local leaders are immediately and circulating whatever material they receive that purports to support Proposition 8 (some of which is patently false or misleading) without making the least attempt to verify whether or not it is factual. I fear this may result in the Church's winning the battle against Prop 8 but losing its image as an organization dedicated to the highest principles of Christian behavior.

I also hope that the General Authorities will reiterate that how we vote on any matter in a general election is a decision that each member of the Church is free to make based on his or her own conscience and that "as Church members decide their own appropriate level of involvement in protecting marriage between a man and a woman, they should approach this issue with respect for others, understanding, honesty, and civility." (From "The Divine Institution of Marriage"—

Truth can never be more harmful than denying it


Chino Blanco said...

It's a mess. God bless. You've been a sane voice in all of this.

Reuven said...

Fellow Christians!


This is an attempt from the Mormon "Church" to gain credibility among evangelicals. Don't be fooled. A simple google search on mormon evangelical relations will reveal a lot about their plan.

You'd tell your kids "Don't accept candy from strangers." Set a good example by not doing it yourself.

(See the War on Savings)