Saturday, November 8, 2008

The LDS Church, Romney and Prop 8

I have been pondering how to view the LDS church involvement with Prop 8. It is not normal for me to just shred an entire group of people, and with that in mind, I have been trying desperately to find a way to avoid that though I admit to having great difficulty post Prop 8.

Every time I build a case for a position, I knock it over.

My neighbors of some 20 years are LDS. I love them dearly. I taught their son piano, they have adopted both cats and dogs for me, and have watched out for me for years. Now, I look at them differently. I almost wish I were gay so I could approach them in a personal way. I know they love me too and would never want to see me hurt. That said, is it the case that this family knows absolutely no one who is gay? Is that even possible (I keep asking myself)?

Andrew Sullivan had this to say about his feelings:

Tolerant and inclusive Mormons should not be forgotten; the Mormon tradition of church-state separation should not be ignored either. But toleration goes both ways. Gay people have every right to regard the Mormon church hierarchy as a mortal enemy. If they knock on my door any time soon, they will get an earful. --The Atlantic, 11-07-08

I don't disagree with him at all. The shredding of civil rights is the most egregious "civil" action I can think of. In doing a lot of reading on this--to, at least, inform my personal thinking on this topic--I came across this November 2, 2008 article in the Salt Lake Tribune. It's not too long, says a great deal about my own thinking, but that still doesn't cut it. There is one interesting notion put forward in the article though which sort of lends itself to looking forward at legal and perhaps initiative reversal of Prop 8 should they conger the notion of trying this again:

Affirmation assistant executive director David Melson says the church has done damage to its own members and its reputation. "Win or lose, the actions of the church over the past 90 days will result in damage to the LDS Church in California and beyond from which it may take a generation or longer to recover," he says.--Salt Lake Tribune, November 2, 2008

What the one line quote gives us, perhaps, is the limit of the LDS in future actions. Do they really want to be thought of as "the" anti-gay church for the foreseeable future? That would surely happen if they launched another high-stakes (pardon the pun) strike on gay marriage. But then, in perspective, isn't that also true with the Evangelical churches? It is. But the difference is the historical persecution of LDS and their wildly different beliefs and and self-view. The LDS church has always been an outsider and some would describe the church as a cult.

That the issue of gay marriage has brought the LDS church into proximity with the Catholic Bishops and Lutherans and evangelical churches let alone the zealous leaders of the religious right media is striking.

And as the article points out, right or wrong, the issue of polygamy has a shining future if the LDS church should choose to involve themselves again. That just isn't a happy PR thought for the LDS church.

As this 24 October 2008 Salt Lake Tribune article posted on Beliefnet points out, the LDS Church has a lot to lose and so does the anti-gay marriage religious movement should the LDS church not involve themselves further--read money. Over $20 million, in fact.

Of course the ever-wacky Ahmansons will throw money at anything that looks or smells like theocracy. But the article does some notable crystal balling worth filing away in the mind's library.

"Because [Mormon candidate] Mitt Romney's religion was used effectively against him, if I were opposing Prop 8, one of the tactics I would use would be to divide those united for it along religious lines," Schroeder wrote. "By singling out Mormons for these attacks, I would emphasize their distinctiveness from orthodox forms of Christianity, and drive the wedge a little deeper."--Salt Lake Tribune, October 24, 2008 [emphasis mine]

I know that will not settle well with many in TEC, let alone many religious liberals of other stripes. But is it wrong? Is it right?

Lawsuits may or may not solve the problem created with Prop 8. It would be nifty if they did. And, ultimately, cheaper. But the question I would be asking myself, were I developing a campaign to reinstate gay marriage in California, would be this: If we hope to get something on the 2010 ballot (assuming the legal issues were known in terms of getting another initiative on the ballot such as strong date lines for procedural matters, fund raising, and an assessment of what turnout in an off-presidential election year means on this issue, etc.) how do we proceed politically, and can we, as a coalition of people, gay and not, religious and not, play good guy, bad guy?

For those of us that have religion as a centerpiece in our lives, is it okay to attack another religion or do we let the secular part of the movement do it and we simply step out of that fray? Is that honest?

I know that Kos has committed to reversing the current mess. I don't know what he has in mind, but, stated simply, Kos is VERY bright and extremely politically astute.

This post is really me unplugging my mental plumbing jam on this as of now. But isn't this what many of us are, in fact, doing? We simply cannot lose this over time, and we know that.

What are your thoughts? How do we move forward?