Is This Discriminatory?

Maggie Gallagher
is shocked that people would make this nasty ad about the Mormons. As Andy Sullivan points out, Mormons have put considerable money and effort to pass Proposition 8 in California, which would ban same sex marriage. Mormons are not the only people to support Prop 8, however, so I don’t think it was necessary to call them out.

I’m of two minds on this. If a religious faction is trying to change laws to suit its doctrines, then I think it’d better be prepared to take hits from people who disagree with them. This is about political activity, not religious activity. If the ad were criticizing Mormon doctrine that would be a different matter.

Put another way, Mormons have a right to practice whatever religion they want to practice. But when they try to impose their religious views on everyone through law, then they should be expected to be treated like a political faction, not a religion.

As I said, I’m of two minds on this. I don’t like to see a religious group demonized or caricatured. But when a religious organization is operating in the political sphere, criticizing its political activities is not necessarily anti-religious bigotry.

18 thoughts on “Is This Discriminatory?

  1. I think what you’re missing is that it’s not “Mormons”. The Mormon CHURCH, from the HQ down in Salt Lake City, Utah, has dictated that it should be a priority for its members to give money (around $20M by some reports) and time to take rights away from another minority. Mormon Temples in California have served as organizing locations for door-to-door and GOTV efforts.

    So, it’s not “Mormons” acting as individuals. It’s the Mormon CHURCH acting as an institution.

  2. Well, yes, paperwight, I do understand that. I am speaking of “Mormons” as a religious faction or organization, not “Mormons” as random individuals.

  3. Well reasoned.

    My response is similar, if a tad less mature. “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion,” so how can the LDS Church justify using its resources in the making of law? Well, they can’t. The door that separates church and state swings both ways, protecting worshipers from government and citizens from churches. If the LDS got bonked on the nose by that door, boo hoo.

  4. I have no problem with the ad calling out anyone who is a significant supporter of this movement. It’s clear that the Mormon church et al. is intending to impose their social views on others, restricting freedoms already granted by the state, and so name it as such. It’s not about their theology, it’s about their desire to impose their notion of utopia on the rest of us.

    BTW, I just listened to my second robocall about this, from none other than Bill Clinton.

  5. What I want to know is how the Mormon Church still maintains its tax exempt status. It should be revoked. Immediately.

  6. Something to keep in mind about the Mormons is that their last leader pretty much kept the Mormon Church out of politics. Obviously there has been a change.

    There’s nothing wrong with firmly confronting Mormons on the consequences of their support of Proposition 8. But it’s important not to demonize them or do anything that cranks up their reactive authoritarian response. That usually just makes things worse. That’s partly why Karl Rove was so successful for so long. Guys like him know how to make people angry and fearful.

    What turned around many people about partnership rights and now even gay marriage was not organizations like ACT UP or gays dressed up like nuns (though my wife and I admittedly enjoyed some of their stunts). What changed things were ordinary people lining up at the city hall in San Francisco to get married. The less differences people see between themselves and others, the less they demonize the other. That’s an important lesson to keep in mind. Obviously, some people require more persuasion than others but if we think about what we’re doing, we can reach people rather than driving them further away.

  7. It’s good for the Mormons to be shown for what they are. I suspect the Morons are be targeted as the heavies is because they are considered a cult by mainstream Christianity, and that the proponents of the defeat of proposition 8 can take a shot at organized Christian bigotry at an already existing chasm within Christianity. Who wants to surrender any rights,or even support, people who wear magic underwear?

  8. Craig, do you mean they stayed out of politics farther back than 30 years ago?

    The LDS Church was very active in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Apparently it was considering a secretive political alliance with the Catholic Church in Hawaii and California, as long ago as 1997, to crusade against same-sex marriage. However, I think the Prop 8 campaign is about as transparent as the LDS Church has ever been in its political involvement.

  9. What’s funny is in New Zealand something similar happened a couple years ago with a sect called the “Exclusive Brethren” funneling lots of money into the National party (NZ’s main conservative party, though in many respects they are more liberal than some US Democrats, but thats another story). Anyway, when word got out about a church doing this, kiwis were up in arms about it. The heard of National at the time resigned and it was a big scandal.

    But in the US, its business as usual. That’s f^cked up.

  10. 1) Maha, I don’t think that the use of the word “Mormons” means “The Mormon Church”. I wouldn’t use the word “Catholics” to mean “The Catholic Church”. The Mormon Church is trying to conflate those two very different things in its ginned-up outrage, which is why I am trying to point out the difference.

    2) Swami, actually, the reason the Mormon Church was targeted was because it was acting as an organized unit to dump massive amounts of money and personnel into an effort to strip gay people of their rights. The Mormon Church is the largest (visible) organized group trying to do that. It’s true that the various conservative politico-religious groups do pretty much loathe each other, but they put that aside when it comes to the oppression of women or gay people. Fundie Christians make common cause with Fundie Muslims internationally to prevent the use of birth control and rights for women and gay people, even while at home they’re fulminating about the evils of the infidel/heathen who just wants to take over the world.

  11. 1) Maha, I don’t think that the use of the word “Mormons” means “The Mormon Church”. I wouldn’t use the word “Catholics” to mean “The Catholic Church”.

    Please don’t be tiresome. I wrote of “Mormons” as a “religious faction” and a “religious organization,” which ought to have made it clear I was speaking of the institutional Mormon church. Note that I’m in no mood to discuss this further.

  12. Whatever, Maha. Never mind that the outrage pimps make great hay out of pretending that criticism of the religious institution equals criticism of the religious people.

    And now, having broken your rule by disagreeing (politely) with the language you used, precisely because of what I’ve been seeing in California as those very same outrage pimps try to strip rights from people I know and care about, I expect you’ll toss me out.

  13. Fuck the mormon church’s blatant interference in politics. Fucking strip ’em of their tax exempt status. We can boohoo over the precious widdle rights of the precious widdle bigots once we’re as concerned over the civil rights of queers and everyone else here in this state.

  14. I share your uncertainty here, and I think your justification in terms of political action by a religious body meriting political criticism is just. The question is: does this video rebut the political action, or does it also cariacature members of the Church of Latter Day Saints in a discriminatory fashion? I feel there is something discriminatory going on here – this wasn’t the only way to tell this story, nor the fairest. But perhaps, as has been suggested, they walked into the punch on this one.

    I like Craig’s comment above – carefully measured. A couple of other comments seem to think there’s some Church and State issue involved in this – excuse me? The seperation of Church and State isn’t intended to exclude religious organisations from political involvement (that would be anti-democratic). It was principally intended to stop Government interferring with religious practice – although the converse effect comes as part of the package. This doesn’t preclude religion influencing politics at the level of the individual – and indeed, how could it?

    The Church of Latter Day Saints, as a politically-organised religious institution, has every right to pursue political goals, even if in this case I feel they are being extremely foolish and unjust in doing so (not to mention that people in polygamous glass houses shouldn’t throw stones…) Their choice of political action may be heinous, but they have the right to choose it.

    On a lighter note, I don’t believe the two lesbians in this advertisement. Does anyone know a lesbian couple that couldn’t kick the arses of two teenage Mormans? >:)

    Happy new president! 🙂

  15. If you don’t want people to mock and criticise you for pushing your nose into their private business, then DON’T DO IT!

    It’s pretty simple. There is nothing in this ad, or the issue, that involves Mormonism being privately practiced. Suggesting that there is, that it is in any manner or to any degree, an attack on Mormonism — “I don’t like to see a religious group demonized or caricatured” — is not sensible. They are being shown to be doing what they are in fact doing; if they don’t like that they should stop doing it.

  16. Never mind that the outrage pimps make great hay out of pretending that criticism of the religious institution equals criticism of the religious people.

    That was kind of my point, dear. Do learn to read.

    I expect you’ll toss me out.

    No, I think I’ll just tell you you’re being a douche,

    See, you are not disagreeing with me. You are misinterpreting what I wrote and disagreeing with the misinterpretation. Now, go away.

  17. If the Mormon Church wants to pull this kind of crap fine. But if they do so, their tax exempt status needs to be revoked.

    And tax exempt or not, they are an open target to criticism. If they can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

  18. The comments pertaining to the illegal political activity of the Mormon Church revolve around the fact that tax exempt organizations (with a few exceptions, of which religious ones are NOT) are explicitly prohibited from participating in politics (endorsements, press releases, monetary donations). They need to be stripped of their tax exempt status because of their activities — and then pay back taxes.

    I am *fuming*.

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