Sunday, November 09, 2008

Political fund-raising centers targeted for protests.

Several thousand residents of Salt Lake City descended on the Mormon Temple protesting the churches dominant role in funding the dishonest antigay campaign that was behind California’s Proposition 8. Protesters included Mormons horrified at how their church had acted. Joanie Garbett, 78, a lifelong Mormon said: “How we got into this mess, I don’t know. I think it’s a very dangerous step the church has made.”

Meanwhile, the Mormon leadership continues to demand that it not be held responsible for what it did because it is a church. Apparently religious institutions, and only religious institutions are supposed to be exempt from responsibility for their actions.

The church, which urged members to provide millions in funding, claims it was being “singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election.” They are ignoring the fact that they were the main funders of the campaign in both California and Arizona. They financed a campaign that singled out one group of people and demanded that group be afforded second class status in regards to rights that the church demands for itself.

It is hard to say they were singled out when they were accurately targeted for their unique role in this campaign. No other church acted the way the Mormon sect acted. No other church pulled out all the stops to actively work their members to raise the funds which Mormons provided. For the Mormons to whine that they are singled out is like Ted Bundy complaining that the was “singled out” for killing 35 women. No other church did what the Mormons did in this campaign. It is hardly singling them out if they were pretty much the only church to act as they did.

The church also whined that they were being targeted for exercising “the most sacrosanct and individual rights in the United States -- that of free expression and voting.” Odd that comment. The Mormon sect doesn’t believe in free expression and has long advocated censorship especially of sexual material. They have actively worked to end free expression of material they dislike while claiming the right to free expression for themselves. Once again, Mormons seem to believe that rights are a one way street which apply to themselves but must be denied to those they dislike.

The sect leaders also said, “it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process.” It was the Mormon leaders who made their “sacred places of worship” centers of political activity. Remember that Mormon leaders paid to broadcast satellite messages to hundreds of Mormon churches. In those broadcasts they told their members, sitting in the pews, to fund Prop 8. The church used those “sacred places of worship” for political organizing. They recruited activists to drive to California to campaign to strip gays of rights. They raised the money that funded the campaign. Without using those “sacred places of worship” the way the Mormon leadership did it is unlikely that Prop 8 would have passed.

It was the Mormon leadership which turned “sacred places of worship” into centers of political activism. Now the church is demanding those centers of political activism be exempt from protests because they are places of worship. The hypocrisy is astounding.

If Mormon leaders turned their churches into political recruiting centers then it is perfectly fine to protest at Mormon “places of worship”. Free expression doesn’t mean one is exempt from the consequences of that speech.

What angers the Mormon sect’s leaders is that they wanted a stealth campaign. They wanted Catholics to front the campaign and take all the blame while Mormons provided the volunteers and funding. The idea was for Mormons to eat their cake and have it too. Mormons would get what they wanted but Catholics would take the blame. In other words, they wanted the benefits without taking responsibility for their action. I personally find it highly immoral for the church to claim the right to act but also claim it shouldn’t be held responsible for doing so.

The Mormon sect has a history of deceptive actions and is always keen to improve its public image by whitewashing its actions. Its own history is far from a clean one but Mormon leaders try to hide the facts from the public and their own members. They actively tell their missionaries to avoid answering inconvenient questions about their weird beliefs. (See the below video for confirmation that they encourage missionaries to avoid such questions.)

Personally, based on my 30 year interest in the history of Mormonism and how the church acts, I believe the protests are a very wise idea. Mormons work hard to cultivate a specific image, one that is not accurate, but which makes it easier to con the gullible into joining the sect. That is why they wanted a stealth campaign where Catholics took all the heat and Mormons got a free pass when it came to this campaign. Protesting before Mormon centers draws attention to the Mormon sects role in this campaign to strip one group of people of the right to marry.

Every action has costs involved. Mormons wanted to escape certain costs in their campaign -- the cost of bad publicity for their sect. The protests make Mormonism’s move into political activity more costly than what the Mormons had originally estimated. By raising the cost such protests reduce the likelihood that the church will use their vast tax-exempt resources to fund attacks on the rights of others. The Mormons had hoped to pass those costs onto Catholics, who they see as a heretical sect. Mormons would get what they want and Catholics would pay the price of the bad publicity. The protests ruin that deceptive plan.

If any readers know of future protests being scheduled at Mormon political organizing centers (which they call places of worship) please post the location, date and time in the comments section. Certainly if any are planned at the temple not far from me I will be there.

The above video is of filmmaker Helen Whitney who produced a documentary on Mormonism for PBS. Whitney recounts how Mormons routinely distorted their own beliefs for PR purposes. So it is no surprise that they would try to manipulate the Prop 8 campaign for PR purposes by using the tactics I've discussed here. Whitney found it hard to get Mormons to be honest about their own teachings even when those teachings are well-documented and church leaders reluctantly confess to holding them.

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